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The Italian Secretary
A Further Adventure Of Sherlock Holmes

by Caleb Carr

      The game's afoot! Holmes and Watson are back, and in top form in the hands of the respected author of The Alienist. Here is one of the cases that Watson only hinted at, a sensational and spooky tale of nefarious doings at Holyroodhouse. Over three hundred years after Mary, Queen of Scots watched her Italian secretary Rizzio stabbed in front of her, two more men have been stabbed in a similar fashion. These murders coincide with the Queen's intended visits, so it is up to Mycroft to alert his brother and get the case solved as soon as possible.

"Do what you like with him" Conan Doyle is quoted as saying, and many authors have done just that. Here is a novel in the true Doyle spirit, the sort of thing that can surely only be the work of somebody who knows and loves the canon. There are dastardly doings on dark and stormy nights, ancient bloodstains and the unquiet ghost of Rizzio, weirdly shattered corpses and depraved aristocrats. Surely nobody can resist such a heady concoction, and the book fairly rattles along at a speed ensuring that it remains exciting with no sags or repetition. This is no literary masterpiece with soul searching characters, introspection and a leisured look at the case from all sides - and thank goodness for that! If you too are cheering, then curl up by your fireside and get stuck. This is the perfect book for Christmas Eve (or any other time). I do hope Carr writes another.

The Book

Little, Brown (Time Warner)
8 August 2005
Historical Crime [1880s, Edinburgh]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005