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For Holmes and his affable annalist, Dr. John Watson, this spirited escapade begins sometime in the late 19th century with their receipt, in London, of an encrypted telegram from Sherlock's eccentric elder brother, Mycroft, "a senior but anonymous government official." It summons them to Edinburgh, Scotland, where architect Sir Alistair Sinclair and his foreman, Dennis McKay, have been slain in the midst of rehabilitating the medieval west tower of the Royal Palace of Holyrood--the very wing where Queen Mary had lived, and where Rizzio had met his brutal, politically motivated end. Mycroft fears these murders portend new threats against Britain's present monarch--the elderly Queen Victoria, who infrequently lodges at the palace--by a known assassin, perhaps in nefarious league with the German Kaiser. En route north, Holmes and Watson are menaced aboard their train by a red-bearded bomb thrower (supposedly a rabid Scots nationalist), only to discover that still greater dangers await them, and others, at Holyroodhouse. The plaintive drone of a weeping woman, cruelly punctured and shattered corpses, a pool of blood "that never dries," and a disembodied Italian voice with unexpected musical tastes all imply the wrath of wraiths behind recent atrocities. But Holmes and Watson deduce that greed, rather than ghosts, may be to blame.
Carr, who earned renown with his historical mysteries, The Alienist (1994) and The Angel of Darkness (1997), apparently intended The Italian Secretary to be a short story; however, he couldn't stop writing. The result is a fleet-footed, atmospherically gothic, and often amusing Holmes tale (with an exposition scene in Watson's bed chamber thats truly priceless), but one that makes scant attempt to enhance our understanding of Conan Doyle's characters--a less ambitious undertaking, in that respect, than Mitch Cullin's concurrently published A Slight Trick of the Mind. And while Carr displays a gift here for adopting another author's literary techniques, it is really his own style and series players that his fans are waiting to see more of in the future. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Too bad this story didn't have Carr's characteristic style.
This is a book that will be enjoyed by fans of both Carr and Conan-Doyle as well as by readers who simply like a fast-paced, well written yarn.
Carr's handling of the Conan Doyle material in this book serves only to prove that Sherlock Holmes is not one of them.
I felt like I was reading an Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock mystery! A great read!Published 1 month ago by Alisha Horst
I was truly disappointed by this novel. I was looking forward to reading it on two fronts. First, as a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Second, as an introduction to Caleb Carr. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ken
At this point, there are certainly hundreds, and possibly thousands of Sherlock Holmes pastiches published. Read morePublished 7 months ago by A. Ross
Something of a disappointment, but readable. The writing is polished enough, mostly -- MOSTLY -- with the exception of numerous instances of weak sentences such as the oft-repeated... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Joe Lewis
To compare to the classic Holmes canon, 'The Italian Secretary' is closest to stories like 'Charles Augustus Milverton', or more appropriately, 'The veiled lodger'. Read morePublished 11 months ago by James B.
Bought as a gift and it was just what my mystery loving friend wanted, she loves these king of books and you can't beat quick Amazon deliveries.Published 13 months ago by Betsy Smith
I'm a fan of all things Sherlock and I was intrigued by the setting of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and by the historical background involving Queen Mary of Scotland. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Carolyn J. Rose
In the matter of The Italian Secretary, a mystery is "afoot". Caleb Carr, the author of the intricate and exciting mysteries The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, has... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jocelyn R. Chabot
For fans of Sherlock Holmes, this novel will particularly delight. Carr remains true to the spirit of the Conan-Doyle's characters and offers here a well executed tale. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Fred M. Jeffers