Customer Reviews


13 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Any truth is better than indefinite doubt
So said Sherlock Holmes in The Yellow Face. Any indefinite doubt I had about Caleb Carr's ability to craft a credible and very enjoyable Sherlock Holmes adventure was dispelled in the first few pages.
I have read and enjoyed Carr's earlier fiction, The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. One of the hallmarks of both books was Carr's ability to create a seemingly...
Published on 7 May 2005 by Leonard Fleisig

versus
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A miss is as good as a mile...
The portrayal of Holmes is spot-on to begin with, but slips a little as the book wears on. He's too much of a cypher, and some of his utterances, especially on the supernatural, seem out of character - as though Carr has superimposed the beliefs of Conan Doyle upon Holmes. There are also little details here and there that don't quite ring true. Would Watson really be so...
Published on 23 Aug. 2006 by laughing gravy


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A miss is as good as a mile..., 23 Aug. 2006
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
The portrayal of Holmes is spot-on to begin with, but slips a little as the book wears on. He's too much of a cypher, and some of his utterances, especially on the supernatural, seem out of character - as though Carr has superimposed the beliefs of Conan Doyle upon Holmes. There are also little details here and there that don't quite ring true. Would Watson really be so ignorant of foreign languages, or of the differences between highland and lowland Scots? The plot is a bit on the slight side (perhaps because this was originally intended to be a short story), and the tension slackens considerably after a nicely written scene on a train up to Scotland.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Any truth is better than indefinite doubt, 7 May 2005
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Italian Secretary (Hardcover)
So said Sherlock Holmes in The Yellow Face. Any indefinite doubt I had about Caleb Carr's ability to craft a credible and very enjoyable Sherlock Holmes adventure was dispelled in the first few pages.
I have read and enjoyed Carr's earlier fiction, The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. One of the hallmarks of both books was Carr's ability to create a seemingly auhentic picture of life in 19th-century New York. He also created a wonderful pair of characters in Dr. Lazlo Kreizler and his trusted comrade John Schuyler Moore. However, Carr faced two hurdles in writing the Italian Secretary. He had to recreate the atmosphere of Victorian-era Scotland, a region he was probably not as intimately familiar with as New York City. Further, while Kreizler and Moore sprung solely from Carr's imagination, here Carr had to find authentic voices for the esteemed Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, whose characterization by Arthur Conan Doyle must be fixed firmly in the imagination of anyone who has ever read the original Holmes tales. That is no easy task.
I have read virtually all of Conan Doyle's work but admit that I cannot claim as much expertise as devoted Baker Street Irregulars or other followers of Holmes. However, this amateur thinks Carr has done a terrific job replicating their original voices. It sound like Holmes and Watson to me.
The plot line is set out in detail in the product description and I won't go on at length about the plot or discuss any of the many twists and turns along the way. I did like the way Carr threw Sherlock's brother Mycroft into the story. Carr does an excellent job describing the petty sibling rivalries that must affect even the most accomplished of brothers.
Carr does a very good job of revealing bits and pieces of the mystery every few pages. The story is fast-paced and the many twists and turns in the story left me continually wanting to read just one more chapter before I put the book down for the evening. For me, this is the mark of good adventure tale.
In an afterword. Jon Lellenberg, the U.S. representative of the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, suggests that Carr write a new story in which Holmes and Watson meet up with Carr's Kreizler and Moore. I do hope Carr takes a stab at this.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in "The Man With the Twisted Lip" that "a trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still more so." Carr has done a marvelous job in chronicling the further adventures of Sherlock Holmes. 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caleb Carr's Sherluck is worth your time!, 1 Feb. 2006
By 
Billy J. Hobbs "Bill Hobbs" (Tyler, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Refreshing. Absorbing. And quite the clever one--Caleb Carr takes the old standby ("the game's afoot!") and out Sherlocks Sherlock in "The Italian Secretary." Carr, noted author of such works as "The Alienist," forges ahead, literarily, with his homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And comes away with laurels.
Fast paced, Carr is off to the races with this one, bringing the Masterful Duo of Holmes and Watson to join Sherluck's brother Mycroft in defense of Queen and realm. Several attempts have been made on Her Majesty and, of course, it's without question to whom she calls to settle things, once and for all. With the usual puzzles, riddles, red herrings, and real clues, Sherlock focuses on what seems to be a most perplexing case. Somehow, he surmises, it combines the here and now, the mystical ("ghostly"), and historical (Mary Queen of Scots). As always, Mr. Holmes relies on his unmitigated logical skills (and culls away the impossible and improbably, leaving his Truth), supported ably by Watson and, in this instance, Mycroft.
Murder and mayhem occur in the Scottish royal stomping grounds (Holyroodhouse) and environs, with typical Holmesian characters and events. Probably, I found, the most outstanding attributes of Carr's "take" are his fast-paced narrative, his clever and sometimes biting humor, and his Victorian characterizations and descriptions. Carr's version on the almost sacred branch of Western Civilization's Great One is worth the read; hopefully, he's planning another episode.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1.0 out of 5 stars Landfill, 30 April 2015
If one starts with the premiss that writers who attempt to copy great predecessors (in this case Arthur Conan Doyle) do so out of love and respect, how can one explain this disastrous book? The first few pages do (like P D James's equally depressing Pemberley pastiche) indeed show signs of a real attempt to copy the atmosphere of 221b Baker Street. But then.....? It all collapses under the weight of impenetrably turgid prose. No further attempt is made to make "Holmes" and "Watson" connect in any way with their imperishable originals. Some books are too bad to risk inflicting them on an unsuspecting guest: I put this straight in the bin. Great landfill.
So please, turn instead straight back to Conan Doyle himself - one of the world's greatest storytellers, and his wonderful short stories: Holmes of course, but also Brigadier Gerard, Professor Challenger, Captain Sharkey and a vast panoply of thrilling characters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The right way to do New Sherlock Holmes, 1 Jun. 2014
By 
'Fountain Pen' (London, England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
Authentic enough in late Victorian/Edwardian style to capture the atmosphere of the period.
Some nice humorous banter between the Holmes brothers, while Watson is very convincingly portrayed. The working-class minions at Holyroodhouse are perhaps treated a little patronisingly by the author (especially Robert Sadler), but this again enhances the period authenticity of the novel and is in no way offensive.
The plot is frankly daft, but there is growing tension and drama leading very effectively to the final confrontation.
An enjoyable novel, and an acceptable addition to the New Sherlock Holmes library.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the spirit of sherlock is alive and well, 15 Aug. 2013
By 
Arnsby Beverley (switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
Mr Carr must have had Sherlock sitting on his shoulder this was well written in the true spirit of connan doyle,weel done
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All the right ingredients with none of the magic, 20 April 2008
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
I have always loved the original Holmes stories and have been interested in what other people are able to do with them, which is what led me to Carr's novel 'The Italian Secretary.'

There is no doubt that the style is almost exactly like the original novels, the plot devices are similar as is the relationship between Holmes and Watson. It's just that something is missing. The tensions in the plot resolve themselves too easily and you end up with an inferior pastiche os a Holmes story. The ending is also incredibly frustrating....to deny something has happened, or to say that its resolution isn't really important is insulting to your readers. As the author, you might not think it's important, but as readers we've gone through 200+ pages to have everything revealed, only to find out that you don't feel like telling us!

If you are interested in seeing what others have sone with Holmes; I would recommend David Pirie's books and also the series written by Laurie R. King (starting with 'The Beekeeper's Apprentice') for something a little better.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best., 14 Mar. 2007
By 
Johnnybluetime - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
I bought this because I very much enjoyed The Alienist and,to a lesser extent,The Angel Of Darkness.I read it straight after consuming Julian Barnes novel ARTHUR AND GEORGE,which despite being 500 pages long,I read in 5 days.The subject matter of that book (which I cannot recommend highly enough),is a real investigation by Conan Doyle (intertwined with the nature of love,duty and honour),into a series of crimes which were disturbingly modern.Having enjoyed that book so much I couldn't wait to read The Italian Secretary.

However,the constraints of not only writing in the style of Conan Doyle,but also to some extent the writing within the literary conventions of that period serve to neuter part of what is interesting about Carr's work.Although usually writing about the same period,albeit in NY,he does so with a modern eye,here he cannot,because he is committed to reproducing Conan Doyle's methods,which are rather old fashioned for the modern reader.

The plot's not bad,but there's no real mystery involved,at least not one that sophisticated modern readers won't guess.There are attempts to make the story disturbing,but within the constraints of Conan Doyle's style they don't really work.However,as a pastiche it does.Because of that I would really only recommend this to fans of Sherlock Holmes.Fans of Caleb Carr will only find a rather muted version of his usual work.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No mre adventures, 16 Jan. 2007
By 
Ms. Lesa Smith (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
I read this because, 1: I love Caleb Carr's boks and 2: although not a big Holmes fan I would like to see how Carr deals with the prickly Holmes. Was I disappointed? Yes. Personally I found the plot full of holes and not throroughly thought out. The Italian secretary story really wasn't needed for the plot to be pushed along and there were times I actually forgot about it as being a huge motive.

In places it was too comical considering the history behind the murders and the royal history concerning the Italian secretary. I know Watson's a bumbling idiot and he is telling the story but the humour began to grate on me halfway through the book. The balance between the humour and the dark history behind the murders teetered towards to the comical on too many occasions and I think more emphasis should have been put on the Scottish nationalist side of the plot which would have been more intriguing to read.

I would have prefered if Carr would write the next book in his psychological thriller series, than waste time on books like this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls Flat, 24 July 2014
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (Paperback)
At this point, there are certainly hundreds, and possibly thousands of Sherlock Holmes pastiches published. They're kind of like junk food of a sort -- hit the spot when you're in the mood for them, but most are unsatisfying on any deeper level. I picked this one up because it had been sitting on my shelf for a number of years, left behind by a houseguest and I can now see why it had been abandoned...

The case revolves around two murders at Queen Victoria's Scottish lair of Holyroodhouse, which appear to have some connection to the centuries-previous murder of the titular courtier in the presence of Mary Queen of Scots. Mycroft -- who is apparently a confidante of the Queen -- sends for his brother, lest anything befall Victoria. Before long, we're knee deep in bomb-throwing Scottish nationalists, butlers with glass eyes, and hidden passages in a haunted castle. It's certainly got all the feel and color of a Holmes tale, but it lacks flavor and substance.

The book feels like a short story/novella that's been padded as much as possible to get to 300 pages -- lots and lots of dead, talky scenes. It also doesn't have any really great reveals or twists -- and few memorable scenes. The characters are there, the period language is there, and the pages turn, but it's flat.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes
£9.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews