Arthur Conan Doyle’s world gets progressively twisted in a slightly tangled story.

The Memoirs of Irene Adler


Edinburgh-based Cassimally (The Case Book of Irene Adler, 2013) brings back the unconventional female who famously impressed Sherlock Holmes for the second installment of a series.

Actress Irene Adler has returned to London following her getaway trip to Australia after the showdown between Holmes and his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, at Reichenbach Falls. Sadly, at least from her point of view, while the sleuth joined her for a spell, he never acted on their sexual attraction. Still, now that they’re both back in London, Holmes offers sage advice about her investigation agency: Use her cross-dressing skills and operate it as a man. Adler decides to try to take his advice, and Cassimally launches into a series of separate-chapter stories of cases and capers. She gets involved in the treason trial of a friend of Lord Clarihoe, her marriage-in-name-only gay husband known as Algie. With the help of her crew of justice-seeking friends, dubbed the Club des As, Irene pulls off a Robin Hood move to help a struggling merchant, a drug-addled Holmes concerned that he committed the crime. When a baby is abducted, all fear the worst, leading Irene to engage in harsh interrogation methods. Other incidents involve foiling an attempt to assassinate the future prime minister Lloyd George, conducting a heist on a bank that Holmes deemed “unassailable,” uncovering cannibalism, and aiding a woman even more libertine than the narrator of these tales. Cassimally’s Irene is a coolly sardonic observer of Victorian hypocrisy and corruption, vibrantly depicted in her stories. She also embraces then-emerging Freudian psychology and is open-minded about sexuality, with her bond with Oscar Wilde–like Algie both believable and touching. Irene’s interactions with Holmes, however, get a bit muddled. Having the two survive Reichenbach Falls together was an inspired idea, but these tales tend to jump around and include some rather underdeveloped and digressive check-ins about Holmes, making it challenging for readers to track the chronological trajectory of this intriguing relationship. 

Arthur Conan Doyle’s world gets progressively twisted in a slightly tangled story.

Pub Date: April 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497383401

Page Count: 180

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.


Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.


Happy birthday, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. But no Florida vacation for you and your husband, FBI profiler Benton Wesley—not because President Barack Obama is visiting Cambridge, but because a deranged sniper has come to town.

Shortly after everyone’s favorite forensic pathologist (Dust, 2013, etc.) receives a sinister email from a correspondent dubbed Copperhead, she goes outside to find seven pennies—all polished, all turned heads-up, all dated 1981—on her garden wall. Clearly there’s trouble afoot, though she’s not sure what form it will take until five minutes later, when a call from her old friend and former employee Pete Marino, now a detective with the Cambridge Police, summons her to the scene of a shooting. Jamal Nari was a high school music teacher who became a minor celebrity when his name was mistakenly placed on a terrorist watch list; he claimed government persecution, and he ended up having a beer with the president. Now he’s in the news for quite a different reason. Bizarrely, the first tweets announcing his death seem to have preceded it by 45 minutes. And Leo Gantz, a student at Nari’s school, has confessed to his murder, even though he couldn’t possibly have done it. But these complications are only the prelude to a banquet of homicide past and present, as Scarpetta and Marino realize when they link Nari’s murder to a series of killings in New Jersey. For a while, the peripheral presence of the president makes you wonder if this will be the case that finally takes the primary focus off the investigator’s private life. But most of the characters are members of Scarpetta’s entourage, the main conflicts involve infighting among the regulars, and the killer turns out to be a familiar nemesis Scarpetta thought she’d left for dead several installments back. As if.

No wonder Scarpetta asks, “When did my workplace become such a soap opera?” Answer: at least 10 years ago.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232534-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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