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The Night Calls (Murder Rooms 2) [Paperback]

David Pirie
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 May 2004 Murder Rooms 2
While a young medical student at Edinburgh Arthur Conan Doyle famously studied under the remarkable Dr Joseph Bell, who was a pioneer in criminal investigation. The Night Calls chronicles their most frightening and disturbing case - the encounter with the man who was later presented in expurgated form as Moriarty. Beginning with a series of bizarre and outlandish assaults on women in the brothels of Edinburgh, the story moves to the medical facility of the city's university, which is itself being disrupted by the violent struggle for women's educational rights. Here Doyle meets a fellow student, young Elizabeth Scott, who has many enemies, among them a crazed misogynist student called Crawford and the smiling hypocritical patron of the university, Henry Carlisle. Yet slowly Bell begins to realise that the increasingly freakish crimes they are investigating reflect an entirely new and terrifying kind of criminal who is not susceptible to the old methods. The Night Calls takes them from the evil heart of old Edinburgh into what Bell calls their 'fight against the future' and to London itself, where Doyle again faces his nemesis with terrifying results -

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The Night Calls (Murder Rooms 2) + The Patient's Eyes: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (Murder Rooms)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (6 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009941659X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099416593
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 604,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Inspired by the discovery that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attended medical school with one of the 19th century's most notorious serial killers, David Pirie's The Night Calls reels out a grim but engrossing tale that suggests a model for Holmes' foremost adversary, Professor James Moriarty.

A series of bizarre assaults on women in the brothels of 1878 Edinburgh draws the attention of Dr Joseph Bell, a surgeon, charismatic teacher and forensic expert who periodically applies his deductive skills to solving crimes. Together with a young Conan Doyle, his "trusted clerk and pupil," Bell follows the trail of an elusive attacker who leads them on crepuscular chases through gloomy Victorian streets and to a blood-filled room where the puzzle of his motive becomes deeper. However, Conan Doyle is occupied with other matters, as well. He's fast developing a fondness for fellow student Elsbeth Scott, whose interest in promoting educational rights for women has made her many enemies, and whose sister, the wife of a hypocritical philanthropist, grows sicker by the day--either as a result of disease or deviousness. The future author is disturbed, too, by his father's deteriorating mental condition. Assisting Bell offers Conan Doyle some release from worry--at least until their controlling quarry becomes a threat to Miss Scott. Pirie's plot only gains more perplexity and darkness as its action shifts to London, forcing the logical Bell and his impetuous amanuensis to contend with opium fiends, disappearing corpses, a severed head with "horrifying power," and continuing taunts by a murderer who believes that "evil is freedom."

While British author Pirie's previous Bell-Conan Doyle novel, The Patient's Eyes, was more of a whodunit, liberally employing Sherlockian investigative techniques, the rather more smoothly constructed The Night Calls concentrates equally on drama and the morally incongruent psychology of its principal players. This novel blends fact with fiction in a mesmerizing tale that boasts a frightening, cliffhanger ending. --J Kingston Pierce,


"A convincing Victorian world of eerie moors and fearless detectives, impenetrable ciphers and strange hooded assassins..." (Times Literary Supplement)

"A gripping narrative which never lapses into anachronistically modern language or attitudes. This is a breath of fresh air in the crime genre - a fascinating read" (Good Book Guide)

"An intellectual treat and a downright guilty pleasure" (Washington Post)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
David Pirie's excellent novel, "The Night Calls," features a young Arthur Doyle, who is a medical student, and his mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell. Bell's sharp powers of observation and clever methods of detection were an inspiration for Doyle's fictional character, Sherlock Holmes.
It is the late 1800's in Edinburgh, Scotland. Arthur Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell combine their resources to investigate a series of grisly assaults on women. Ultimately, Bell fears that the assaults are the work of an unhinged individual whose crimes may soon escalate to murder. It turns out that Bell's fears are well founded. Their antagonist is a sadist who has tremendous intelligence, imagination, cruelty, and daring.
With his skilled description and vivid characterizations, Pirie has done a marvelous job of capturing the mood of the times. He tackles several feminist themes, including the discrimination that faced young ladies who wished to attend medical school, and the wretched exploitation of impoverished women who sold their virtue in order to survive.
The characters of Bell and Doyle and sharp and well-drawn. Bell's incisive mind, no-nonsense approach, and tenacity when faced with a difficult problem are indeed reminiscent of the great Sherlock Holmes. The central villain of the piece is a vile individual who will make your blood run cold.
Pirie includes several intriguing subplots, including one about a chauvinistic and cruel husband and another about an arrogant scientist who believes that the ends of scientific discovery justify unethical means. "The Night Calls" is a chilling, fascinating, and expertly written novel, and I recommend it highly.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The Night Calls 15 Aug 2011
By Rich
Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr Bell investigate a mysterious series of attacks against women.

This starts well and there is a suitably uneasy atmosphere. Characterisation is decent although Doyle is irritating. Unfortunately as the book goes on it all falls apart. The prose for the most part is very dull, especially the descriptive passages. It just doesn't go anywhere. There were no surprises here, the revelation at the end could be seen coming a mile away. As with 'The Patient's Eye' this book infuriatingly ends on a cllffhanger. Had this been a better read, this wouldn't matter so much but I was left feeling cheated and unsatisfied.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle decline, and yet fascinating! 15 Jun 2011
After the exceptionally well-crafted The Patient's Eyes: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (Murder Rooms), this second book of the 'Murder Rooms' trilogy is a slight let-down. Chronologically speaking, the events happening in this book precede those in "The Patient's Eyes", and describe the following: -

* although the events that had first brought Arthur Conan Doyle into the world of Dr. Joseph Bell had been described in the 1st book, the events that had followed that 'introductory' phase, are all here;
* the deep scar left by Arthur Conan Doyle's nemesis, who went on to become the template for Professor Moriarty;
* episodes in the Dr. Bell's crime-solving episodes, one of which surprisingly ends in placing Doyle face-to-face his nemesis, in a cliffhanger ending.

As usual, it is a great fun for Sherlockian aficionados trying to find out as many references to the 'Canon' (yet to come, in a much diluted version, since Doyle must have been trying very hard to evade the shadows accompanying all those memories) as possible. But the book, while succeeding in creating a gothic atmosphere of palpable evil (a precursor of the events in Whitechapel in 1888-91?), does not do justice to Dr. Bell's detective skills as much we have started expecting. Nevertheless, heartily recommended.
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