Sunday, October 4, 2015

book review

-- Product Review -- 

While I rarely do book reviews anymore (I was a professional book reviewer for 7-8 years, reviewing an average of 500 books a year in many genres from young children to novels and non-fiction), I could not resist MX Publishing’s invitation to review 5 different books in the Sherlock Holmes genre.

I received:

Sherlock Homes – Tangled Skeins – Stories From The Notebooks

Sherlock Holmes And The Sword of Osman

Ms. Hudson in New York

No Better Place: Arthur Conan Doyle, Windlesham and Communication with the Other Side

The Final Problem – a Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novel

These books were delivered to my doorstep August 11th or so in an appropriate sized cardboard shipping box, with no additional or unnecessary packaging -which is great for the environment.

I will be reviewing each book separately, one at a time… and since I started with the biography of ACD’s final 23 years of his life - No Better Place: Arthur Conan Doyle, Windlesham and Communication with the Other Side (written by Alistair Duncan) I will publish the review on that one first.

Let me start by saying that I’ve always been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes character, and watched many of the series that were available on TV, and lately enjoyed watching the entire span of season of the Sherlock with Benedict Cummberbatch. Sadly I don’t like the most recent version of Sherlock with Cindy Lou… but that is beside the point. A couple years ago I watched a documentary about the various TV series and theater productions featuring this beloved character and the people who played the roles of the famous detective and his sidekick. It was intriguing to see how each actor absorbed different aspects of the men. Sadly, I knew very little about the man behind the original Sherlock – Arthur Conan Doyle – and this was my inspiration to start with the biography non-fiction look at the later part of his life.

The book was written in a dry, not very entertaining way going from date to date like a calendar or journal. I felt there were a lot of blanks and unexplained areas where the author would mention something but not complete the information on it. I also found many grammatical errors – one blatant mistake in a sentence quoted here: “has hasn’t have” …as if they couldn’t decide on the tense of the word so included them all. lol Another error I noticed throughout was the term “entitled”… you are entitled to something if you earned it… but the name of a book or term paper or article would be “titled” such and such. The author kept saying the book or article was entitled this or that. That got annoying after a while since the word was so repetitively used in the book. The author’s introduction to the book also mentioned that he felt he had to touch on Doyle’s interest in spiritualism but didn’t want to focus on it… yet it seemed to me that about 30% of the book focused on that topic.

That said I truly enjoyed learning about Mr. Doyle as a man. I had no idea he was so proficient at billiards and cricket or that he was so involved in many causes, unjust judicial court cases, unjust happenings in other countries, helping with Olympic events… it seemed he truly left a positive mark with his life, righting wrongs where ever he went and supporting causes he believed in. This book details the last 23 years of his life from 1907– 1930.

The author, Alistair Duncan, has been a Sherlock enthusiast for many years and has written several other books including Eliminate The Impossible, Close To Holmes, The Norwood Author and An Entirely New Country. Believe it or not – there is a group known as The Sherlock Holmes Society, The Conan Doyle Establishment, and The Sydney Passengers…  all of which the author is a member of.

The publisher - MXPublishing - is the world’s largest specialist Sherlock Holmes publisher, with over a hundred and fifty titles and eighty authors creating the latest in Sherlock Holmes fiction and non-fiction. MX Publishing also has one of the largest communities of Holmes fans on Facebook with regular contributions from dozens of authors. Interestingly, MX titles are licensed around the world including Japan, China, India, Russia, Italy, Spain, and Poland – and many of their books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. The company itself is based in London, UK. 
Sadly, I could not find any information about the publishing company regarding environmental responsibility, in-house purchasing, or printing policies (i.e. SFI certified paper, veggie inks, acid/bleach free paper, etc.). However they do support social causes – for instance they have a group of authors who are donating the royalties to the restoration of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's former home, Undershaw. The building was in terrible disrepair and was saved from destruction by the Undershaw Preservation Trust (patron Mark Gatiss). Today the building has been bought by Stepping Stones (a school for children with learning difficulties) and is being lovingly restored to its former glory. Steve Emez, MX’x Managing Director, also is very involved with charitable causes and has done many awareness campaigns via his skills with swimming. You can also find the company via:

Visit to find this book listed at $19.95 (US) or try where it is listed for $26.16 (CDN).

Award-winning authors Dave and Lillian Brummet: 

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