I’ve read many more pastiches than Doyle actually wrote of the first consulting detective. I love me some Sherlock Holmes. As one would expect, some are better than others. These two by Anthony Horowitz are among the best I’ve found in years.
THE HOUSE OF SILK
THE HOUSE OF SILK is another of those Watson penned adventures of Sherlock Holmes stored in the dispatch box in the vaults of Cox and Company to be held for a hundred years before publication.
A conspiracy stretching from Boston to London and involving some of the movers and shakers in society’s upper crust. One of Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars, the newest member, is beaten horribly, his body tossed aside, a ribbon of white silk tied around his wrist.
Holmes is warned off the case by none other than his brother Mycroft who’d received visits from important people after making inquiries for Holmes. As always, he pays no attention and soon finds himself framed for murder, in prison, and a death sentence on him before he can get to trial.
The House of Silk, whatever that may be, is behind it all.
Anthony Horowitz’s new novel is about the aftermath of the incident at Reichenbach Falls. Sherlock Holmes is dead(presumed so at the time of course), as is Moriarty. The author has a few characters from some of the Doyle stories appearing at various points in the tale.
Chief is Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones who, after his embarrassment in THE SIGN OF THE FOUR makes a study of Holmes’ methods, reading every monograph and book the Great Detective wrote. He becomes quite expert in that little trick of deducing a person’s station just by close examination of that person.
Arriving in London just days after the deaths of Holmes and Moriarty is Pinkerton investigator Frederick Chase to look into the death of an undercover agent in Moriarty’s band.
The set-up becomes almost like the Doyle stories with Chase telling the story in first person, Watson to Jones’ Holmes.
It seems America had it’s own version of Moriarty, a shadowy figure named Clarence Devereux who no one could identify. He’d headed to England with the intentions of hooking up with Moriarty.
With the deaths of Holmes and Moriarty, all that seems out the door, but the pair go looking for the identity of Devereux with the intent of shutting him down.
Nicely written with a twist I never saw coming.
!: Sidewinders: Bleeding Texas – William Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone: Bo Creel is back at his family’s Star C Ranch in Bear Creek, Texas. Along with his buddy Scratch, he’s finding out that home is where the hell-raising is. A rival ranch is trying to drive the Creel family out of business, using any means necessary. For Bo and Scratch, always suckers for a pretty face, come two young ladies who just might blur the battle lines.
2: A Dangerous Man – William W. Johnstone: Born and bred in the Texas Pandhandle town of Comanche Crossing, William “Wild Bill” Longley gunned down a dozen of its men in cold blood before he got around to the sheriff and deputy–so he could take over the job himself. Then he found the perfect sidekick in a vicious career criminal named Booker Tate. With his remorseless heart set on a beautiful young woman, Wild Bill and Booker take the whole town hostage until the young lady agrees to marry a man she despises. That’s when a cold-eyed stranger comes to town with a dead man strapped to his saddle. In a town where violence and murder rule the day, a terrifying battle is about to explode–between ruthless Wild Bill Longley and a bounty hunter named Tam Sullivan, who’s done a whole lot of killing of his own…
and the ebooks:
3: Further Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles – Edward A. Grainger: the latest collection of shorts of our two U.S. Marshals.
4: Devil’s Ledger – Richard Prosch: the first novella in a new series of gunfighter hero John Colburn, The Peregrine.
%; The God Project(review copy) – Stan Lee: reissue coming next year from Brash Books
6: Flawless(review copy) – Tom Kakonis: another Brash Books release early next year
The third collection of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles stories from Edward A Grainger(David Cranmer) and Chuck Tyrell. They’re both older these days, most of the tales set in the twentieth century. The two men have aged gracefully and, while their reflexes may have slowed, nevertheless they are still dangerous men. A lifetime of caution have sharpened their minds. The fact that they are older helps as well, the young dismissing them because of it.
Several tales are by Chuck Tyrell, one a memorable remembrance by Wyatt Earp’s wife Sadie to Cash’s daughter Veranda Jane to a team-up of sorts between the pair in Alaska, PROPERTY OF A GUNFIGHTER.
The ebook includes an excerpt from the last Jack Laramie, the Drifter Detective and grandson of Cash, DINERO DEL MAR by Garnett Elliott, another recommended read.
As always, an entertaining read worth the modest price asked.. Available here.
ARIZONA COLT RETURNS was somewhat of a disappointment for several reasons. The first film, which I covered this past Tuesday, starred Giuliano Gemma in the title role. Anthony Steffen takes it in this one and, while he was almost as big a star in the genre, he seemed a bit off his game in this one. Kind of uninspired acting. Part of it I’m sure was the actor’s voice for the English translation. Too deep and not a lot of expression voicing the words.
Two actors from the first film appeared in this one. Roberto Carmardiel again played the comic sidekick Double Whiskey, though he didn’t do much but drink a lot of alcohol in this one. He was an explosive expert last time around and a much meatier part. The second actor was Rosalba Neri, though with a different role this time, Paloma, the girl friend of the outlaw leader behind the plot.
Chico(Aldo Sambrell) takes a stage coach full of gold, murders all those aboard but one and he swears it was Arizona Colt who’d hit them. It’s a frame-up, the witness actually a member of the gang. An old enemy of Arizona’s, he takes great delight in setting him up.
Arizona visits the Sheriff and informs him that “if let alone, I’ll deliver the real killers in twenty-four hours!” Not that easy though. After a fight in the saloon(it seems a prerequisite of spaghetti westerns that there must be a full out brawl in the bar) lands him in jail. A quick trial and a hanging is scheduled. But a trick rig and the help of some friends helps him avoid death and sets him loose to find the real killers. He’s also offered a deal by the father of Paloma, fifty grand for Chico’s head and his daughter back. Arizona turns him down.
Double Whiskey is grabbed and, when he manages to escape, is shot at. Arizona finds him in the river, several bullets in him, and not given a chance to live. That pisses Arizona off and the old man manages to get out where the gang is headquartered.
A neat trick distracts the gang, money floating down the river. The gang rushes to gather up the bills and lets Arizona steal the two trunks of gold from the stage holdup and hide them. He’s only caught when Paloma double crosses him.
Torture doesn’t work, but the murder of his girl friend Sheila(Marcella Michelangeli) does. She manages to crawl over and cut him loose with the very knife that Chico stabbed her with before she dies.
That sets up the gum battle in the valley. One thing I did like about the fight scene. Arizona is shown loading his six shooter a number of times in the battle, something one doesn’t always see.
Grade about a C-.
We follow young Bobby Hale, a Virginian and a veteran, that headed west to find out what lay out there. Hale is not his real name, just the latest.
The story covers Hale’s time with a wagon train, his five year partnership with the Crow Big Tree where he learns trapping and how to live to hooking up with a pair of women, sisters, headed west. He serves as scout sent out looking for Indians, hooks up with Ink, the young half breed Nez Perce woman, shooting her then nursing her back to health, and finally ending up stuck in the middle of the Big Horm battle.
Told in the first person, author Robert Bausch is consistent in his depiction of Hale as a man with little formal education, his use of the wrong tense quite regular, his unfamiliarity with how to deal with common things, and his quick reaction, oftentimes wrong.
Quite enjoyed this one.
John Coburn stumbles across an old cell mate, Bandy Murphy, running from a gang after the Judas Book in Murphy’s possession.
Supposedly a journal kept by an itinerant preacher Judas Warren, it was filled with confessions, locations of buried bodies and stolen fortunes. That was the legend. Coburn never really believed it was real.
But now here was Murphy claiming he had it and there was a pack of killers after it, mre than willing to kill anyone who stopped them from gaining control of the book. But it was so much more.
A fine novella from Richard Prosch. As with most of his stories, both western and more modern, it’s set in his native Nebraska. And the good news is it’s the beginning of a series
Highly recommended and can be ordered HERE.
Ellie Bennett had just pulled a year in prison for something she didn’t do. a former corrections officer accused of beating up a prisoner, set up by a fellow guard because she’d had a brief relationship with the woman’s husband, all Ellie wanted was to start her life up again.
She gets an odd job offer: finding a young woman she’d spent time in prison with. The job was pid for by a Christian group. The reasons seemed benign enough.
But soon another group was offering even more money to find her. This group was connected to the soon-to-be ex-Governor.
Political connections were behind it all. Leaders on both sides were opponents in the coming Senatorial elections.
What could this young woman have that both sides wantd? What could one lone ex-con do caught up between two such powerful forces?
Ellie showed them.
Recommended. Can be ordered HERE.
I’m doing things a bit different this week. Two spaghetti westerns. ARIZONA COLT today and it’s sequel ARIZONA COLT RETURNS Saturday. Genre giant Giuliano Gemma was the first actor to play the rule. From Arizona, when asked about his last name touches his pistol and says “Colt.”
Another spaghetti vet Fernando Sancho plays outlaw leader Torrez Gordo Watch, mostly called Gordo. His band is known as the Sidewinders because he insists on branding them with a snake emblem on their forearms. Known and feared throughout the territoy, each member has a five hundred dollar reward on their head. Gordo’s reward is fifty thousand. A hard man, he carries a nusical pocket watch he said once belonged to his father. Father told him “Once I am dead, it is yours.” Gordo laughs, “Five seconds later he was dead!”
At the beginning of the film, the Sidewinders raid a Mexican prison, slaughtering all the guards, simply to replenish his gang. Gordo is not insistent anyone join his band. If you’re not interested, he simply kills you. Arizona is in the prison, but has a little more going. Get his hands on a gun and he’s practically unstoppable. He declines the invitation and escapes.
Gemma Arizona Colt with a harder edge than normal while still displaying that matinee idol smile. At times he seems a little ruthless with no regard for anyone else’s welfare. When he agres to go after the killer of one of the saloon owner’s daughters, he demands the hand of his remaining daughter, that engaging grin prominent even as he does.
Arizona ends up defending the town in the end, even though he’d been tossed out after killing Kay for the murder of Dolores(Rosalba Neri), the saloon owner’s daughter and a bit of a sexy thing. Arizona was more interested in the other daughter, Jane(Corinne Marchand), a colder, more reserved woman. When warned about her, he says “the difficult ones are more interesting.”
The movie is stuffed with familiar actors, familiar that is if you love spaghetti westerns. Roberto Carmadiel plays Double Whiskey, a drunk and explosives expert. He’s a sidewinder, but finally breaks because of the bloodthirsty Gordo. He likes Arizona and saves him when Gordo shoots him up. Some of the other faces include Jose Terron, one of the ugliest men one can imagine, and Jose Manuel Martin, perrenial bad guys. They are always gang members and aside from maniacal laughter while shooting people never have a speaking role.
The finale between Arizona and Gordo happens, appropriately enough, in a coffin maker’s shop.
One of Gemma’s best.
1: The Chaplain’s War – Brad Torgersen: The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy. They’ve already wiped out two sentient species. Enter Harrison Barlow, though a chaplain, wants to serve with his fellow humans. What good wil a chaplain be in a war like this. We will find out.
2: Moriarty(ARC) – Anthony Horowitz: a new Sherlock Holmes novel that tells of the aftermath of Reichenbach Falls.
3: Ride Into Yesterday – Ed Gorman: Gunman Stephen Payne arrives at a small town where his brother committed suicide after robbing a stage. Page doesn’t believe his brother guilty of either.
4: The Big Ugly(ebook, review copy) – Jake Hinkson: the latest novel by the author from Beat To A Pulp press.