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The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Paperback – 3 Aug 2006

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (3 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751537470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751537475
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.5 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 519,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Full marks to Caleb Carr for creating a new Holmes and Watson adventure (DAILY MIRROR)

Carr's is the real Holmes (Leslie Klinger, editor of THE NEW ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES)

Caleb Carr does not disappoint...A pacy and well-crafted mystery. (DAILY EXPRESS)

Book Description

At the invitation of the Conan Doyle Estate, the best-selling historical thriller writer, Caleb Carr, has created a new adventure for Holmes and Watson, set in the grandeur of Holyrood Palace in the twilight of Queen Victoria's reign.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lonya TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 May 2005
Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: 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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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.
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