Tag Archives: Australia

New Release: Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook

Today is the launch day for Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook – an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories set in different parts of Australia in 1890.

I was delighted to have an opportunity to write another Holmes story set in Colonial-era Victoria after my Holmes/Watson 1893 romance, The Adventure of the Colonial Boy, and promptly set about using my goldfields research in a more traditional Holmes+Watson tale.

Bonnier Publishing’s blurb on the fully illustrated anthology says:

It’s 1890. Holmes’s fame has spread even to the colonies, and he and his stalwart chronicler Watson are swept up in an array of mysteries Down Under. They find themselves summoned from place to place, dealing with exciting and unique mysteries in every corner of this strange island continent.

My story, “The Mystery of the Miner’s Wife”, begins with Watson in a grumpy mood in a Melbourne coffee palace , but soon Sherlock Holmes and his Boswell are catching the train to Ballarat to solve a peculiar murder. Here’s an extract:

The sergeant’s weary eye lighted first on me, and after an uninterested sniff, on Holmes. He sniffed again. “This is a London detective, is it?” asked the surly fellow. “He doesn’t look much. I’d bet we’ve got detectives twice as good even here in Ballarat, let alone Melbourne or Sydney.”

Holmes’s fine lips quirked in a swiftly suppressed grin. “A betting man, are you?” he challenged in good humour, “What about a wager, then. I’ll tell you a secret about yourself and if I’m right, you’ll fetch Detective Meredith for us. Does that sound fair, Sergeant-?”

“Clark,” smirked the sergeant, “And if you’re wrong?”

“A sovereign, and the boast that you have bested the London detective, Sherlock Holmes.”

My story has a marvellous illustration by Jan Scherpenhuizen, one of three people providing gorgeous images, a la The Strand Magazine, for the anthology. The other two artists are Philip Cornell  and Marcelo Baez.

I’m so proud to be in the company of my fellow Holmesian writers: Kerry Greenwood and Lindy Cameron, Meg Keneally, Kaaron Warren, Lucy Sussex, L.J.M. Owen, T.S.P. Sweeney, Jan Scherpenhuizen, Will Schaefer, Robert Veld, Doug Elliott, Philip Cornell, Raymond Gates, Jason Franks, Steve Cameron, and Christopher Sequeira (who also edited the book).  Baker Street Irregular Bill Barnes provides the introduction.

Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook is now available:

Hardcover

Kindle

Or you can check Echo Publishing for more details.

Review: And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

I loved Emma Viskic’s last book, Resurrection Bay, so much, I live-tweeted some of it while reading. I would absolutely have done the same thing while reading its follow-up, And Fire Came Down, except I was offline and on the road for some of it, and was gobbling it up too greedily to wait till Tweetbot was handy.

And Fire Came Down brings us back into the world of Caleb Zelic, who is very much suffering all the psychological and emotional effects of the events of Resurrection Bay. He’s still stubborn about letting people know he’s deaf, his relationship with his wife Kat is still strained, but not half as strained as his relationships with her relatives and indigenous community in Resurrection Bay itself, his brother, Ant, the police and his remaining friends.

In fact, Caleb has strained relations with anyone you’d care to mention. It’s not that he’s a bad person at all, but the aforementioned stubbornness and the uncanny ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, combined with nightmares and guilt, make him the King of Poor Decisions.

This terrific crime thriller opens with Caleb jogging – without his hearing aids, as usual – and becoming entangled with a frightened young woman seeking his help. Portia’s plea for assistance ends in assault and death. Caleb is driven to find out who sent her to him, what happened and why – despite everyone advising him not to.

If every relationship under the sun wasn’t strained before, they sure are now.

Just like with the first book, I spent a lot of time squirming in my chair and shouting at Caleb to for the love of god not to do some of the unwise things he does.  I love the guy and I wish he’d let people help him, or take the time to properly think through consequences.  For all his difficulties, he’s a very likeable character. He’s stubborn and sometimes thoughtless, but he’s also smart, courageous and full of sass. He cares very deeply for all these people he struggles to fully connect with.

Viskic manages to keep this fine balance going from start to end – we can empathise with Caleb, we like him, but damn, we wish he’d make some better decisions.

He’s surrounded by fascinating, complex, flawed people too.  Viskic is excellent at giving the reader fully rounded people, whose motivations may be unclear but convey the real and muddy business of being human.

Caleb’s dangerous misadventures attempting to unravel the circumstances of Portia Hirst’s death this time throw him into the path of drug dealers, bikies, Portia’s fractured family, attacks on the indigenous community of Resurrection Bay (many of whom are Kat’s relations) and sundry shady law enforcement types. Caleb’s former partner and friend, the disgraced Frankie – a splendidly real character – makes an appearance and Caleb is too close to violence more than once.

And Fire Came Down has the previous book’s heady mix of love, pride, prejudice, betrayal, tragedy, family fights and loyalties, and a town full of secrets – some of them deadly.  Viskic writes powerfully and with compassion, setting the perfect pace to create a vortex that sucks you right into her world

Resurrection Bay scooped up a bunch of awards. And Fire Came Down meets the expectations raised by this recognition and ups the ante.

Book three is going to be a cracker!

Buy And Fire Came Down