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Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil: and Other New Tales Featuring the World's Greatest Detective [Hardcover]

Donald Thomas
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 May 2009
Five original stories by the critically acknowledged modern master of the Sherlockian pastiche, Donald Thomas.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (27 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605980439
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605980430
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.8 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,908,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five Sherlock Holmes Stories 4 Mar 2013
By Michael Finn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The Case of the Tell Tale Hands.
A rather dull and pedestrian story to begin an anthology with, Watson uncharacteristically documenting the intricacies of finger printing rather than injecting any excitement or urgency into the proceedings. At the half way stage I was almost hoping for the introduction of a Pygmy or two. Holmes seems perpetually on the verge of calling all and sundry, including Watson, blithering morons. The only lighter moment in the whole affair is the alacrity that Watson displays in choosing Ilfracoombe over Tenby as a holiday destination.

The Case of the King's Evil.
This one was much more to my liking. The plot, though not too murky in it's complexity, is still interesting enough to hold the interest, mainly due to how Holmes handles affairs, maintaining a teasing attitude with Watson throughout, which all stems from how the case initially requested aid from the good Doctor and not the better than good detective. The case takes the pair to Norfolk to discover what happened to two brothers, lighthouse keepers both, who have gone missing after a witnessed fight. There are good descriptions throughout of the estuary, the mudflats and the treacherous tides and quicksand under foot. There is a particularly suspenseful sequence out on the mud flats, the tide rushing in, as Holmes pushes bullishly toward a solution with Watson in reluctant tow, the latter seemingly with more mind to the danger the environment poses than the other. I must admit to a fairly rabid fetish in myself for lighthouses, so combining my Holmesian obsession with such is a double whammy. Good stuff.

The Case of the Portuguese sonnets.
Back to more dull ramblings among the murky doings of forgers and extortionists.
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2.0 out of 5 stars What did you do in the war, Mr Holmes? 30 Aug 2013
What did you do in the War, Mr Holmes? In "Sherlock Holmes and 'The King's Evil' and Other New Adventures of the Great Detective", Donald Thomas tells us that in August 1914 Holmes - a pacifist, of sorts - is persuaded by the First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, to de-camp from 221B Baker Street to "Room 40" in a Whitehall Ministry and direct Admiralty Signals Intelligence. In a London and Europe full of spies, Holmes conducts an austere campaign of the Bletchley Park variety against German Intelligence. The story tells of Holmes' decisive role in the so-called Zimmermann Telegram of 1917, which contributed to bringing the United States into what we now call the First World War. Donald Thomas sticks much more closely to Conan Doyle's style and characterisation than do the recent television and film versions, and, to that extent, there is less imaginative verve than in, say, "Sherlock". He does, though, accentuate Holmes's lack of humour and self-awareness: "All things considered, Watson, and though I found much of the work tiresome, I believe it was just as well that I was at hand when this little matter came to the attention of our Government."

Anarchist insurrection in the East End, that is the "Siege of Sidney Street" of 1911, is the subject of the other story with a pressing historical theme, "The Case of Peter the Painter". Holmes' contribution is politically doubtful, particularly when he engages in an episode of impersonation but, on the whole, he comes out on the side of the downtrodden, the seamstresses in sweat-shops, in spite, it seems, of the gung-ho activities of the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As the Queen So Aptly Phrased It: We Are Not Amused! 31 Mar 2010
By Michael OConnor - Published on
British author Donald Thomas cranks out five new adventures involving everyone's favorite detective in this 2009 release from Pegasus Books. Although I was aware of Thomas' Holmes pastiches, this is the first collection of his I've read. Having dutifully slogged through SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE KING'S EVIL, I have to say I won't be looking for more of the same!

KING'S EVIL has Holmes and Watson invsetigating the odd behavior of an English Lord, the disappearance of two brothers in an isolated village, the supposed death of a blackmailer, German plans to invade America, etc. That all sounds interesting but, for the life of me, I couldn't get into Thomas' storylines. The five tales were strictly paint-by-number affairs that, in no way, approximated the spirit or warmth of Doyle's originals. In each tale, the narrative was bogged down by tedious explanations of something or other, a literary device that Doyle rarely used. When he did, he never flogged it to death like Thomas. Then too, the Holmes-Watson relationship was perfunctory at best; ditto the Victorian atmosphere. To be honest, I had to force myself to complete the book.

If you're a dedicated Holmes fan, by all means, take a look at SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE KING'S EVIL. You may find it wonderfully well-written and exciting. I didn't...and can't recommend it.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donald Thomas' fourth Sherlockian Collection 14 July 2009
By Philip K. Jones - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the fourth collection of Sherlock Holmes tales by this author and it continues a series of excellent books. "The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes" and "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice from the Crypt (UK: Sherlock Holmes and the Running Noose)" contained tales that involved Holmes in historical mysteries of the 19th and 20th Centuries, while "The Execution of Sherlock Holmes" concentrated on Holmes and characters from his past.

This present collection contains tales that exhibit Thomas' deep knowledge of British crime and its more complicated manifestations. Each of the novellas presents a complex and unexpected tale of events unique to Britain and, particularly, to the British criminal. The only exception is the final entry, which tells the story of the Zimmerman telegram, the trigger event that brought the United States into The Great War.

The Case of the Tell-tale Hands tells of a unique method of blackmail and the victim's equally unique response. It is a dark and chilling tale, to which Holmes and Watson act as audience. Holmes explains the matter to Watson, but neither is able to divert the destiny set in motion by the blackmailer.

The Case of the King's evil is another dark and confused tale. Murder has been done, but the identities of the murderer and the victim are both in question. Further, the method used to perform the murder is even more in question. Holmes, as is his way, discovers all and acts as final judge and jury. He learns more than his client expects and offers a surprising sentence to the guilty.

In The Case of the Portugese Sonnets, Holmes undertakes an investigation into the world of Nineteenth Century Literary forgery. The remarkable materials made available by the mysterious death of a well-known Literay agent/blackmailer threaten to blacken the names of a number of English lumenaries (and to line the pockests of some less than respectable hangers-on). Holmes and Watson are asked to bring some order out of the chaos his death has inaugurated and the results are a triumph of scientific detective work.

The Case of Peter the Painter is a classic example of Winston Churchill's stint as Home Secretary. Holmes discovers evidence of Anarchist activities in Houndsditch and Churchill calls out the Scots Guards. Sherlock and Mycroft, working together, manage to stave off mass murder and to avoid rioting and revolution. The activities of Londoners during this set of circumstances echo those of The Blitz thirty years later, `Business as usual,' in the midst of explosions and gunfire. Even the mysterious magician Chung Ling Soo has a part to play in this fascinating narrative.

In The Case of the Zimmermann Telegram, the author uses Holmes to explain the events that led to the exposure of the telegram transmitted by the German Foreign Office through the US diplomatic pouch as a courtesy and then sent by commercial telegraph service to the German Counsel in Mexico City. The problem was that the note instructed the Cousel to propose that Mexico attack the United States and make Mexican Port facilities available to German submarines conducting unrestricted attacks on nuetral shipping. The release of this telegram, as decoded by the British, brought the US into the Great War.

Donald Thomas has studied and written about the world of British Crime to the point where his understanding of the subject is encyclopedic. His characters and situations are drawn from life and he uses Holmes as no other writer could to track down and foil the very real sorts of criminals he depicts.

Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones; June, 2009
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review for 11 Oct 2009
By Smart Aleck - Published on
Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil by Donald Thomas

I think I was in the 4th or 5th grade when I read my first Sherlock Holmes story, "The Adventure of The Speckled Band." I don't recall exactly how I came across it, although I do remember finding out later on that it was Arthur Conan Doyle's favorite of the Holmes' stories that he had written. Perhaps I was a bit spoiled by that initial introduction because, although the vocabulary was a bit advanced for me at the time, the storytelling was riveting. I proceeded from there to search for every Sherlock Holmes story I could find and, ultimately, ended up with the complete set of them as part of my personal library. But, as any Sherlockian can tell you, it's just not enough. I have re-read "Speckled Band" several times; I have watched both Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett do admirable jobs of portraying Holmes on film. And I have continued to read what are called pastiches of A. Conan Doyle's work, specifically "The Seven Per-Cent Solution" by Nicholas Meyer. "Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil" is yet another attempt to satisfy the unending hunger for fresh adventures from the master of deduction. For my part, the stories contained herein fall a bit short. Of course, anything not written by Doyle will fall short in one way or another. The problem here is that Thomas imbues Holmes with a lot of extraneous knowledge -- necessary to the story, but not true to the character. The point of this volume is to take some obscure historical fact from Victorian England and interweave it with the idea that Sherlock Holmes was somehow involved. Thomas is most successful at capturing the atmosphere of the original canon in "The Case of Peter Painter," but, mostly, his approach if far too didactic, telling the reader things he just doesn't need to know at the expense of the underlying story.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my idea of Holmes stories 3 Dec 2010
By whichwitch - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Personally, these don't fit my image of Sherlock Holmes stories. The original tales are short cracking adventures with characters who leap off the page in all their eccentricity. These are all multichapter efforts that bog down in detail, and Holmes and Watson are pale shadows of themselves. Whatever Holmes is smoking has chilled him out considerably, and Watson may have had a drink or two. He's definitely wordier than usual and in the title story practically repeats himself for a chapter. What really put me off my stride was the 'telltale hands' story, as i'm not sure what the author thought he achieved with it. It was a little gem when it was Oscar Wilde's short story 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime', but here the author's stomped all the humour out of it and twisted the perspective around so that Holmes can draw some conclusions that sometimes feel more like wild guesses (a man who wears gloves must be afraid of people reading his palm? And i mean random people like the servants) and then stay entirely uninvolved while the original conclusion plays out. A sour-spirited little coda doesn't help. All in all, didn't satisfy my Holmes craving.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot..." 14 Aug 2009
By Terry Sunday - Published on
I normally steer clear of books written by authors who try to pick up characters or series from other (usually deceased) authors. For example, many years ago I was an avid reader of the late Ian Fleming's "James Bond" novels. After Mr. Fleming died, other (lesser) authors wrote purported "Bond" novels. I read a few of them, but found them to lack all of the qualities that made the originals so good, and I soon lost interest. Similarly, "Variable Star," author Spider Robinson's embarrassingly inept attempt to channel Robert A. Heinlein, the late "Grand Master of Science Fiction," was so bad it almost made me give up on the genre entirely. Thus, I didn't have much hope for Donald Thomas' "Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil," featuring the continued adventures of the world-famous consulting detective created in the late 1800s by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I'm happy to report that Mr. Thomas' effort is not half bad. In five tightly plotted, well-written stories averaging just over 60 pages each (in fairly large print), he evokes very well the authentic "look and feel" of London in late Victorian times that are so crucial to the Holmes mythos. One of the tales, "The Case of the Zimmerman Telegram," takes place years later than the original Holmes stories, but not so much later that it jars one's sensibilities (unlike the old movies starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes fighting Nazis in World War II!). Mr. Thomas' dialogs are excellently written, his plots are appropriately clever, his stories are fast-moving and his characters are well-defined and interesting.

The tidy little mysteries in "Sherlock Holmes and the King's Evil" are in many ways remarkably similar to the Conan Doyle classics that have been in print continuously for well over a century. Mr. Thomas comes as close as any modern author I've read to successfully recreating a well-known fictional character from long ago. You'd never confuse his work with a genuine Conan Doyle in a blind taste test, but its not bad. I recommend it if you crave a new dose of Holmes and his unique deductive crime-fighting techniques.
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