Friday, October 25, 2019

Lego Sherlock Holmes: J is for Jeopardy!

Re-imagined, Lego Sherlock Holmes in his latest adventure - A Baskerville Curse - in A-Z format! Can it possibly get cooler than that?

Yup! The advance reviews are in A-Z format as well! 26 testimonials from Sherlockians all over the world even before the book is released, what are you waiting for?

Here's my review, adding to the heap of praises this wonderful project has already collected:

J is for Jeopardy! Danger lurks, an ancient curse stalks! How will our favourite detective duo - Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson - manage??

Some Sherlockians are already aware of this super-cool project and its latest offering and where to buy it - just click on the link and it'll take you to the Kickstarter page for the book: A Baskerville Curse.

Here is an interview with the author himself - if you're still not sold on the idea! (Seriously, this is the cutest avatar of Mr. Holmes ever!)

Hurry! Book your copy now!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Art in the Blood

“Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.” - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.
“Art in the Blood” is akin to decadent chocolate dessert for the Sherlockian soul. You start devouring it and you just can’t stop until the last spoonful is gone. Enthralling narrative, with the Great Detective and the Good Doctor captured oh-so-beautifully, seductive hints of darkness and poignant insights into the heart of Sherlock himself. I have not been so moved by a pastiche so much since I read The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution by Nicholas Meyer at age 13.

Of course, Bonnie MacBird, after all, is an award-winning scriptwriter and a dedicated Sherlockian – it is only fair to expect a spectacular book from her. But Art in the Blood is beyond spectacular. It is ethereal, displaying an uncanny, hypnotising mix of the “great heart” and the “great mind” we know and love. Bonnie has captured Sherlock Holmes and John Watson so adeptly, I had to read through the book twice just to ensure that I was reading it right and not projecting my own idea of Holmes and Watson onto the book. (And this resulted in an almost-missed flight to one of my favourite cities in the world, followed by a near-fall into the Liffey.) And then there is Mycroft – magnificent, imperious Mycroft Holmes! Murder, mystery and mayhem? Check.

Bonnie has given the book everything a Sherlockian needs and much, much more. She lures you in with a gorgeous cover, and once you start reading, you realise that she has captured the heart, mind and soul of the two men so perfectly that you just can’t put it down. Her repertoire of masterful storytelling, witty dialogues, heart-wrenching drama, meticulous research and well-woven mystery is certainly impressive. Her writing is sublime; you can feel Holmes and Watson around you – so tangible that you can almost touch them. And I kid you not, Sherlockian, there are nail-biting moments and times when you need to give them both a hug – more for your sake than theirs.

I do have a couple of complaints – first is that we have to wait for the next one (subtle hint to author: more, more, more and soon, soon, soon!) and second is the lack of Bonnie’s watercolours (Bonnie’s art is stunning) – but there’s good news; Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop is producing a limited edition of the book with her artwork, and it’s up for pre-order, so book your copy before it runs out.

I will try and get an interview with Bonnie when she has some time and after I have stopped mooning over the book (and speaking in lurid adjectives). Until then, I can only say – get hold of the book at the earliest; every Rupee and every second you spend on it is well worth it. It releases tomorrow!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Final Problem (Petr Kopl)

Petr strikes yet again! This time, prepare yourself to be stunned more than ever before!

Moriarty is fearsome, and Holmes is stupendous. Watson draws a salute. Mycroft turns up in all his clandestine glory, too. Petr is a True Sherlockian (or a Pucca Holmesian, as we like to call 'em in India) and his adaptation of the canon and canonical characters, even (or especially) with his brilliant quirks thrown in, captures Sherlock's soul in an unparalleled fashion.

To be honest, I have no idea what to say in this review. I have run out of adjectives to praise Petr's work, and this one outshines them all. How do you measure the immeasurable? The art is as (perhaps slightly more) breathtaking as ever. This book is a personal favourite of mine; I had the good fortune of attending the launch of the original Czech version in Prague.

I can safely say that this graphic novel is the BEST piece of art I have held in my hands in my entire life.

Petr had ensured that no Sherlockian/Holmesian will remain dry-eyed by his rendering.

If you already supported the project on Kickstarter, you are a wise Sherlockian, and shall be rewarded soon. (The Kickstarter project was funded in less than 12 hours - must be some sort of a record!) If not, you can still buy it on The Strand or on Amazon.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes

Are you depressed? Are you missing Sherlock Holmes? Are you pining for an adventure? MX has the perfect cure for you: The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes - a fantastic collection of Sherlockian art that will leave you in stitches!
Oh yes, it is that good. And very, very clever.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Glenn Schatell in New York last month at the BSI Cocktail Reception. Glenn showed me his book - a compilation of Sherlock Holmes cartoons by his father, Mr Norman Schatell. Now, regular readers of the Baker Street Journal, the Sherlock Holmes Journal, the Serpentine Muse and several other Sherlockian publications would no doubt be already familiar with the works of Mr Schatell...but for those who are not, Glenn has painstakingly compiled this utterly delightful treat. I say "treat" because there is something in it for each and every Sherlockian/Holmesian - no matter your age, temperament or style of humour!
The cover itself is a fantastic prelude to the humour that runs through the book:
I have spent many hours in the last few weeks giggling in the back of a cab after long (and often tiresome) workdays over the Kindle version of "The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes", which I bought as soon as I was back in India. I am sure my sanity was questioned - but who cares, it was too good to resist! The hardcopy turned up a couple of days back - even better! Just look at these:

Humour aside, the cartoons are also diabolically clever. Many, many times I would look at one, smile and come back to it after a few more pages - only to reach for the canon to figure out a reference (Google, too, at times). And when I figured out some all by myself...ah, well - it's a matter of great pride, ain't it? There are very few things in life better than clever humour. Here's the proof:

Almost three hundred pages of sheer delight! What more could a Sherlockian possibly want? This is an absolute "must-have" book for all of us. Let's end with my favourite:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Scandal in Bohemia (Petr Kopl)

Strange, eh? The book isn't even out yet. But I am one of the privileged few to see it (thank you, Steve Emecz and Petr Kopl), and I couldn't be happier. The funding of this comic book on Kickstarter has gathered well over thrice the amount aimed at. There's still time left, so it will probably cross four times the required amount. If you haven't booked your copy yet - do so right away here; I have a feeling all places stocking it would put up "sold out" boards within days of its release, and Steve will have to run to the press again to get the reprints out.

Anyhow - back to the matter at hand - the review. I have been wondering for a week now - what can I possibly say about this graphic novel that would do justice to the brilliance of its artwork, the cleverness of its adaptation and the sheer genius of the man behind it? The conclusion - anything I say will be inadequate. Anything anyone ever says will be inadequate - for there are no words in in the languages I know to measure or capture the "superlative" quotient of this book. I could start rattling off in alphabetical order - astounding, bedazzling, charming, delightful, elegant, fantastic, glamorous, humorous, impeccable, jolly, kaleidoscopic, lovely, magnificent, neat, outstanding, perspicacious, quick-witted, radiant, sophisticated, thoughtful, unique, vivid, witty, xtra-ordinary (well, I can't think of another with x), youthful and zany. No, it's not enough. It's not even close. You cannot measure the immeasurable. You can only revel in its glory. 

Surprisingly true to the canon (yes, true enough to satisfy even the most rigid of purists), the adaptation captures the spirit of every character so well, you would be drawn into the plot, whether you want to or not. Even if you know the canon by heart, you are in for a surprise - Petr seamlessly weaves two tales into this one (A Scandal in Bohemia and The Adventure of the Speckled Band) - with interesting results. Ingeniously placed cameos by well-known (and well-loved) literary characters as well as original Petr Kopl characters are a delight. Sherlock Holmes is a deadly combination of genius, sassy and adorable, Dr Watson is at his most virtuous and Irene Adler is drop-dead gorgeous (and smart).

I don't speak Czech, so I honestly can't say if anything has been lost in translation. From what I can see, the translators have done an amazing job - the dialogues are witty and amusing, and remarkably true to the canon. When I read the Czech version months ago, it was thanks to Google Translate - a bit tedious, but all right to get the gist - obviously, I missed the clever quips that the English version has now captured. I am very, very impressed. In any case, offers of translations in other languages have started flowing in (and this, before the book is out - can you imagine what it's going to be like when it is actually out?) - so if you speak neither Czech nor English, do not fret. Go ahead and take a look...and then ask Steve if your language is on his list yet.

You can't afford to miss this. Still need more reason? Here are a few:

  • To the Sherlockians out there, I say - this is the most gorgeous and intelligent adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia" I have ever seen. If Sir Arthur could see it, he would be overwhelmed. This is a must-have for the collection of every Sherlockian in the world. 

  • To the comic-lovers out there, I say - the artwork is immaculate. Rarely would come across such a talented artist. Every panel, every stroke is perfect. You will not be able to take your eyes off, I can guarantee.

  • To those fond of English literature, I say - the quirky and delightfully twisted literary references will leave you breathless. The more you read, the more you shall spot, and the cleverer you shall feel. 

  • To the brainiacs, puzzle-lovers and armchair-detectives out there, I say - think yourself smart? Think again...unless you have been able to pick up every single clue Petr has surreptitiously hidden away in plain sight. 

In the end, at the risk of sounding like a teenage-boy-band, I'll say no matter who you are, what you do or where you're from, "A Scandal in Bohemia" will leave you stunned, impressed and hungering for the next book. I am rubbing my hands in anticipation...are you?

And last, but not the least, I have to thank Ales Kolodrubec, the President of Česká společnost Sherlocka Holmese (the Czech Sherlock Holmes Society), for giving me the opportunity to take a look at Petr's work. Ales, you are a true Sherlockian!

And here's the cover of the book:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini in the Adventure of the Spook House

Thanks to the author, C. Michael Forsyth, I had a chance to read this very, very interesting book. And I have to say, I am quite impressed.

The book is thoroughly well-researched and cleverly written. As the title suggests, it follows the thrilling adventure of Sir Arthur and Houdini as they embark on a mission to America to solve a seemingly supernatural mystery. Sir Arthur is in his spiritualism days, and Houdini is determined to be grounded in reality. The portrayal of both protagonists (as well the supporting characters – though I will not get into details about them; no spoilers!) and the dynamics of their interaction is highly enjoyable – the easy camaraderie of their friendship, the friction of their heated arguments, the (occasional) self-righteousness on both sides…all of it is meticulously planned and executed by the author. The author’s attention to details is commendable – I can only imagine the amount of work it would have taken!

Anyway, since I must not give away any spoilers, I am simply presenting three brief, benign extracts from the book – these are my favourite bits, obviously:

Extract #1:

"Doctor Stratton, I am of course flattered that you'd seek me out," said the author. "But as I'm sure you are aware, I am not Sherlock Holmes nor do I have a means of contacting him, much to the disappointment of the many female admirers who've asked me to forward correspondence."

Extract #2:

Conan Doyle flung open the door and in strode a tall, rail-thin man in a long gray cape and deerstalker hat, grinning broadly. The hawk-like nose, the piercing black eyes darting about and assessing the room—there was no mistaking who stood before them.

"Sherlock Holmes! Well, this is a welcome surprise," Conan Doyle shouted in delight. "My son returns to me. A prodigal one but a sight for sore eyes nonetheless."

The famous man took off his cap and tossed it onto a rack by the door.

"Yes, but you haven't been half as sporting to me as the fellow in the Bible, have you? As I recall, you tossed me off a waterfall once."

"Yet you're none the worse for wear," Conan Doyle chuckled genially and gave the other's hand a robust shake. "I fear it was you or me. If I hadn't bumped you off, I'd have taken a spoonful of strychnine myself to preserve my sanity."

Extract #3:

Houdini smiled. "Thanks for the compliment, but I think long after the world has forgotten Houdini, your Sherlock Holmes will be around and kicking."

Isn’t that intriguing? Doesn't it make you itch to get hold of the book?

All in all, a most enjoyable read – and if you are fond of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini – kindly proceed to the bookshops and get hold of the book immediately! You are in for a treat!

Further details can be found at the author’s website:

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sherlock Holmes in Japan

This has been long overdue – a thousand apologies to Vasudev Murthy, the lovely author of “Sherlock Holmes in Japan”, which is written under the pseudonym of Akira Yamashita. And a thousand more, because I know I promised a formal review – but I just couldn’t come up with it.

Let me present the beautiful cover first (though, I suppose, most would be familiar with the image by now):

Now, of course, there is no dearth of Sherlock Holmes pastiches in the world. The sheer quantum of Holmesian literature, in fact, is mild boggling – especially when you consider how little of the canon there is. And, therein, lies the charm of Sherlock Holmes.

And here comes another problem – I can’t write a “proper” review without giving out spoilers, and I hate giving out spoilers because it ruins the charm for those who are about to read a book. So, how do I go about writing this review? Generic gushing without saying anything is pretty useless and solves no purpose whatsoever – “verbal diarrhoea”, as a friend of mine would call it.

Tricky business. I could, however, try to give a sort of introduction to the book, why I liked it, my favourite quote and keep the major plot elements out of the picture.

Vasudev’s book pertains to the Missing Years (you do know why I’m using capitalised terms here, yes?) – with the one major advantage – post-Reichenbach, Sherlock Holmes does not face evil by himself this time – he has his Watson. Good old Professor Moriarty is as sinister as ever, locked in an intellectual duel (with the fate of the world hanging in the balance) with the Holmes brothers (well, Mycroft’s sort of there in the background – but as I keep saying, I adore Mycroft, and have a tendency to latch on to any mention of him) – and Sherlock Holmes is the only man who can foil his devious intent. Holmes and Watson travel through many exotic places – including but not limited to India, Cambodia and finally make their way to Japan, where the grand showdown happens. Sherlock bedazzles the reader.

Murder and mayhem, of course, follow them around like loyal dogs. There is a scene where Watson thinks he is dreaming of murder, when it actually takes place under his nose. (Sorry, any more details would be spoilers.)

The best feature? The entire book is incandescent with humour. Vasudev has cleverly used Holmes and Watson caricatures. Watson is often bumbling – and infinitely adorable. Holmes is hyperbolically clever, cryptic and cantankerous at times – and it is done so well that you will fall off your chair laughing and people in the vicinity will shoot you OMG-what’s-wrong-with-her-now looks.

Holmes and Watson meet some eminent people on their way, and these meetings are quite fun.

Also, apparently, Vasudev has changed something that conflicted in history and the canon – he did tell me, but I really cannot recall – technical things concerning history usually fly over my head. Now, I know there are some very erudite Sherlockians out there who take their history very, very seriously and who take offence at anything that deviates from actual facts or the actual canon – I salute you guys, and have a lot of respect for your knowledge – but I can’t really empathise.

A book is meant to be fun. We love Sherlock Holmes, and we want to see him in action. We want a gripping story-line which showcases Sherlock’s heroism (for he is our hero) and is fun to read, too. A good book (in my humble opinion) should leave you happy. (Yes, yes, I know most of serious, scholarly literature leaves you in dire need of Prozac and generates nightmares for weeks.)

And “Sherlock Holmes in Japan” does leave you happy. It is a complete story – has all the “happy” elements – action, adventure, cleverness, exotic locations, heroism, humour, mayhem, murder – and a very satisfying ending (which, I think, is very important – all’s well that ends well and all that jazz) – murder mysteries solved, mega-scale crisis averted, Sherlock Holmes hailed as the hero with his best friend by his side (it just doesn’t feel right without Dr. Watson, does it?) – what more can you possibly want?

Go, buy the book and see for yourselves. You will be well entertained, and as you turn the last page, you will smile.

My favourite quote from the book (Context: Holmes is showing off his deductive skills to a Japanese gentleman, and then invites the said gentleman to try deduction on himself, and the Japanese man retorts with this):

“ have an older sibling who you admire greatly and your energy springs from a desire to keep pace with him...”

Sherlock Holmes is gobsmacked. To find out more, read the book!

Oh, yes, before I forget - the inimitable Ross K Foad has agreed to review this book - so that should (hopefully) be available sometime soon...and that'd be a proper one!

Lego Sherlock Holmes: J is for Jeopardy!

Re-imagined, Lego Sherlock Holmes in his latest adventure -  A Baskerville Curse  - in A-Z format! Can it possibly get cooler than that? Y...