I tend to rag on mysteries, if I’m paying them any attention—they rarely provide me with more than one reread, and rereadability is one way I measure a good book. Or perhaps it’s because I used to read and reread this Agatha Christie collection my mother had; I remember waiting to forget the solutions to reread it, because there was really no other reason I was reading it. But, in the interests of fairness, there are a handful of mystery titles on my reading list that I am honestly excited about getting to—and they’re both set in the late 1800s.
Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas
Winner of the American Mystery Award for Best Novel of Romantic Suspense, and the Romantic Times Award for Best Historical MysteryMiss Irene Adler, the beautiful American opera singer who once outwitted Sherlock Holmes, is also a superb detective, as Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker can attest. Even Holmes himself must admit–albeit grudgingly–that she acquits herself competently.
But in matters of the heart she encounters difficulty. The Crown Prince of Bohemia–tall, blonde, and handsome–proves to be a cad. Will dashing barrister Godfrey Norton be able to convince Irene that not all handsome men are cut from the same broadcloth?Guy Ritchie is directing a new film for Warner Bros. based on the life of Sherlock Holmes, due out in the fall of 2009. Robert Downey Jr. is Holmes, Jude Law is his able sidekick Dr. Watson. Rachel McAdams portrays Irene Adler, a femme fatale who Holmes always considered to be “the woman”–and who outwitted Holmes when few could.
I love Irene Adler. Much like anyone else who reads the Holmes canon, her lone appearance and her affect on Holmes himself fascinates me—gorgeous, witty, crossdressing for kicks, and clearly wildly in love with Godfrey Norton, whom she doesn’t even sleep with on her wedding night. You can imagine how much Irene appeals to me. So when I discovered that a whole slew of mysteries focusing on Irene (as told by her own personal lady Watson) existed and that they were actually decent, I was over the moon.
Odessa at Book Eater enjoyed it, especially the friendship between Irene and Penelope as contrasted against their opposite numbers in Holmes and Watson, and George V. Reilly at his self-titled blog finds this series to be a lot of fun.
Good Night, Mr Holmes was published in November of 1990.
The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl
In his most enthralling novel yet, the critically acclaimed author Matthew Pearl reopens one of literary history’s greatest mysteries. The Last Dickens is a tale filled with the dazzling twists and turns, the unerring period details, and the meticulous research that thrilled readers of the bestsellers The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow.
Boston, 1870. When news of Charles Dickens’s untimely death reaches the office of his struggling American publisher, Fields & Osgood, partner James Osgood sends his trusted clerk Daniel Sand to await the arrival of Dickens’s unfinished novel. But when Daniel’s body is discovered by the docks and the manuscript is nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the novel that he hopes will save his venerable business and reveal Daniel’s killer.
Danger and intrigue abound on the journey to England, for which Osgood has chosen Rebecca Sand, Daniel’s older sister, to assist him. As they attempt to uncover Dickens’s final mystery, Osgood and Rebecca find themselves racing the clock through a dangerous web of literary lions and drug dealers, sadistic thugs and blue bloods, and competing members of Dickens’s inner circle. They soon realize that understanding Dickens’s lost ending is a matter of life and death, and the hidden key to stopping a murderous mastermind.
The Last Dickens actually made a pit stop on my desk a while back; while I tried to get through the first pages, I just wasn’t in the mood for Victoriana, so back it went. Naturally, as an editor aspiring to work in the publishing world, I adore anything set in the publishing industry—and a period murder? Why not? I actually don’t recall where the recommendation for this came from, but considering that I started this blog the year it came out, it was probably from the early days.
Swapna at S. Krishna’s Books found it to be enjoyable, but she also pointed out that the pace sometimes lags. Jackie at Vulpes Libris found it a satisfying mystery with a nice focus on the world of publishing in the Victorian era (YES!), but points out that the subplot is superfluous.
The Last Dickens was published on March 17, 2009.