Book Recommendation: The Sherlockian – Graham Moore

I just finished Graham Moore’s The Sherlockian. I don’t recall if I stumbled on it because of other Sherlock Holmes themed books I have read or if it was something I saw on Goodreads. I picked it up Friday at the library and found it hard to put down.

Here is a synopsis from Goodreads:

In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines, anticipating the detective’s next adventure, only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning — crowds sported black armbands in grief — and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin.

Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had “murdered” Holmes in “The Final Problem,” he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found.

Or has it?

When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he’s about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world’s leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold – using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories – who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.

In the acknowledgements of the book, the author states that the book is loosely based on real events. Many characters in the story are real (Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde) while others are compilations, in a sense of many people.

What I really enjoyed about the story is the back and forth from present day to Doyle’s England. The intertwining of the past and present really made the book a fun read.

I had no idea that Bram Stoker (who wrote Dracula) and Arthur Conan Doyle were friends in real life! I did know that Doyle hated his Sherlock Holmes character so much that he killed him off.

Whether you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or just love a good mystery, I think you’ll enjoy The Sherlockian.

Book Recommendation: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Not too long ago I posted about two books by Anthony Horowitz (Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders) which were truly unique in that there was a book within a book in each one. The whole idea of a murder mystery connecting with another murder mystery story was such an interesting concept.  The stories were very intriguing and enjoyable at the same time.

I love your typical whodunit mystery stories where somebody gets killed and a detective, private investigator, or some innocent person gathers clues and finds out who did it in the end. The formula has worked for some of the great mystery writers like Agatha Christie, Earl Stanley Gardner, and others. 

I remember reading a book about the TV series Columbo. One of the things that TV networks were concerned about was the fact that they show who the murderer is right from the get-go. They didn’t think anyone would want to watch a detective try to figure out who did it, when the audiences would already know the guilty party.  That changed up the presentation of the murder mystery format. 

The book that I just finished reading changes it up even more so.  In all honesty, it goes against all mystery logic, but that’s what made it a fun read. Let me tell you a little bit about Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister.

Here is the Goodreads synopsis:

Can you stop a murder after it’s already happened?

Late October. After midnight. You’re waiting up for your eighteen-year-old son. He’s past curfew. As you watch from the window, he emerges, and you realize he isn’t alone: he’s walking toward a man, and he’s armed.

You can’t believe it when you see him do it: your funny, happy teenage son, he kills a stranger, right there on the street outside your house. You don’t know who. You don’t know why. You only know your son is now in custody, his future shattered.

That night you fall asleep in despair. All is lost.

Until you wake . . .

. . . and it is yesterday.

And then you wake again . . .

. . . and it is the day before yesterday.

Every morning you wake up a day earlier, another day before the murder. With another chance to stop it. Somewhere in the past lies an answer. The trigger for this crime–and you don’t have a choice but to find it . . .

What an interesting way to solve a crime! Each time she wakes up the main character finds a different piece to the puzzle. Along the way she finds out things aren’t as the seem in the present. As she continues to go back day by day, week by week, she discovers more of the events, characters, and clues that led to the murder.

The fact that I enjoy time travel stories is known to anyone who reads this blog. Using the “forced” time travel aspect in this story brought about some extra suspense. The character has no idea how long she will travel back in time OR for how long. She also has no idea if she will ever make it back to the present or just go back so far that she stops existing.

There were times during the story that my jaw actually dropped open because of something I didn’t see coming. It was a great story that at times caused me to pause and reflect on things the main character was feeling. There were things that really made me think about how I approach each day as well.

Does she figure it out? Does she stop the murder? Does she save her son? Does she ever make it back to the present? I highly recommend this book!!

5 out of 5 stars from me!

Another Good Read: This Time Tomorrow

If it seems like my blog has become a lot of book recommendations, I’m sorry. I’m doing more reading than I have ever done. I suppose my desire to read comes and goes, but every book I have read lately has had something in the plot summary that peaked my interest. It’s been fun to read stuff from new authors, too.

I literally just finished This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub. She is not a “new” author in that she has written many other books. I did find it interesting to know that her and her husband own their own book store in Brooklyn, New York.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, I have mentioned my love for time travel stories. The thought of being able to go back in time and visit some famous event or to the future is intriguing. The Back to the Future movies, The Twilight Zone, Time Tunnel, and even the short lived series Timeless will always be fun to watch.

This book has a bit of time travel in it (and coincidentally, so does my next read). Here is the Goodreads synopsis:

What if you could take a vacation to your past?

With her celebrated humor, insight, and heart, beloved New York Times bestseller Emma Straub offers her own twist on traditional time travel tropes, and a different kind of love story.

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Alice’s life isn’t terrible. She likes her job, even if it isn’t exactly the one she expected. She’s happy with her apartment, her romantic status, her independence, and she adores her lifelong best friend. But her father is ailing, and it feels to her as if something is missing. When she wakes up the next morning she finds herself back in 1996, reliving her 16th birthday. But it isn’t just her adolescent body that shocks her, or seeing her high school crush, it’s her dad: the vital, charming, 40-something version of her father with whom she is reunited. Now armed with a new perspective on her own life and his, some past events take on new meaning. Is there anything that she would change if she could?

What I love about the premise of the story is that even though she wakes up on her 16th birthday, she is very aware that she just turned 40. This is an important part of the story. It is kind of the “If I knew then what I know now” sort of thing. Tiny Spoiler Alert: There is a “Groundhog Day” feel to the story as she repeats the same day more than once. Knowing that won’t spoil too much for you.

The love story eluded to in the synopsis is not the ordinary love story. It is the love between a daughter and her father. That love is really what drives the story.

It really wound up being a thought provoking story. I could easily see this being something that would be a good Book Club read or even something that would make a great movie.

Thoughts on “The Maid”

I have an account on Goodreads. If you are looking for a book, they have many lists that you can browse. “Best books of the 20th Century,” “Best Thrillers of the Past Year,” “Books You Should Read at Least Once in Your Life,” Etc…

Every year they have a “Best of” list for the various genres and The Maid by Nita Prose was the winner for Best Mystery. I kept seeing it come up in my friend’s books as well, so I decided to have the library get me a copy.

I read this book in about 2 days. It was one that I enjoyed, but not everyone felt the way I did based on some of the reviews on Goodreads. Let me give you the synopsis and then I will explain.

From Goodreads:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Notice the first sentence? “Molly is not like everyone else.” I could tell right from the get go that this character might have been autistic. Some reviewers called her “neurodivergent.” This term was new to me. It means “differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal (frequently used with reference to autism spectrum disorders); not neurotypical.”

The story is told from Molly’s perspective. The words “autistic” or “neurodivergent” are never mentioned. Molly is, well, Molly. She very well may be one of those things, but she never mentions it. The way she approaches the world, and her job is not in any way odd to her. To me, this is the biggest hang up that people had about the book. It didn’t bother me at all.

My oldest son is on the Autism Spectrum (Asperger’s). I know many people who are also on the spectrum. Because of the therapies and people I have come to know through Autism support groups and such, I found myself completely understanding how the character thought and how she reacted to situations. I didn’t find her odd in any way. As a matter of fact, her personality plays a key element to the story.

There were some surprises in the book and I found it to be a good read. It may not be for everyone, but I enjoyed it.

Book Recommendation: Moonflower Murders

I just finished another of Anthony Horowitz’ books and I have come to really enjoy them. This is a follow up to The Magpie Murders, which has a similar premise. It’s a book – with a book inside. Does that make sense? It’s two murder mysteries for the price of one.

Here is the Amazon/Goodreads synopsis:

Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she’s always wanted. But is it? She’s exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she’s beginning to miss London.

And then the Trehearnes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married—a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Farlingaye Hall—fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts. 

One of her former writers, the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew the murder victim—an advertising executive named Frank Parris—and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Conway based the third book in his detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Case, on that very crime. 

The Trehearne’s, daughter, Cecily, read Conway’s mystery and believed the book proves that the man convicted of Parris’s murder—a Romanian immigrant who was the hotel’s handyman—is innocent. When the Trehearnes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened.

Brilliantly clever, relentlessly suspenseful, full of twists that will keep readers guessing with each revelation and clue, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction from one of its greatest masterminds, Anthony Horowitz.  

When I read Magpie Murders the concept of the book within a book threw me. The way it all wrapped up was surprising and satisfying. With Moonflower Murders, it is very similar and it worked just as well. If there is a third book in this series, I will certainly be reading it.

Brief Update

I have been reading more over the last few months. As a matter of fact, I’ve probably read more books in the last 6 months than I did all last year. I just finished up another one from Anthony Horowitz. He has earned a spot on my list of “must read” authors.

I went through my “want to read” list on Good Reads and requested a few more from the library. I am currently reading a fascinating book from Patricia Cornwell on Jack the Ripper.

She wrote it back in 2002 and I think I found this at a used book store a few years ago. When I ran out of books from the library, I went to my home “to read” stack and picked this one off the top. I don’t know much about the Jack the Ripper murders, but this book seems to line up with a PBS special I saw a few years ago.

I also got my hands on a DVD copy of The Offer, which was a mini-series that streamed on Paramount+.

If you know anything about me, you know how much I love the Godfather movies. This is the behind the scenes story of how the Godfather went from a best selling book to the amazing award winning film. I haven’t gotten far, but I did get one episode in. I can’t wait to finish this.

On the Horizon …

  • I think I have decided on a topic for a “feature” I want to host. It will probably involve childhood Saturday mornings …
  • I recently finished up my post for Dave’s (A Sound Day) Turntable Talk. It involves a childhood musical memory.
  • I have been wanting to write on something for a while and I’ve decided that my brother is the perfect person to help me with it. That will be coming soon.

Have a great day!

Another Good Read – The Midnight Library

I literally finished this book in a day and half. I really found it to be thought provoking, and at the same time it was based on something I have always believed.

I have said on here before that I am who I am today because of all I have been through. Every decision I have ever made has brought me to this point. I found a chart that illustrates what I mean. Pay no attention to the words on it, but look at the various “flow”.

You face a decision. You make a decision and that sets you off on one path (or chain). If you had made a different decision, you would set off on a different path (or chain). Perhaps those paths would cross or intersect occasionally. It is also possible that you might wind up in the same place at the end, who knows? The point is that in our life time, we make millions of decisions and each decision will lead to millions or billions of outcomes. That is sort of the premise of the book.

Synopsis from goodreads:

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets? A novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Barnes and Noble says this:

If you were presented with the opportunity to go back in time and change your life, would you? Matt Haig ponders this question in The Midnight Library, a story that follows Nora Seed as she is given a chance to redo her life. Hopeful and thought-provoking, this novel will change your perspective on your own life. says:

The Midnight Library is a beautiful book with a clever concept, masterfully executed by Matt Haig. It is easy to read, full of great quotes, smart references, and even some poems and lyrics Nora wrote in her other lives. The book draws from many genres and will make you think deeply, not just about the lives you could lead, but also about the one you do. A magnificent thought experiment with a wonderful conclusion.

My Thoughts

When I saw this book on a “recommendation list,” I read the above descriptions. I felt that I could relate to the basic premise, especially because of my thoughts on who I am today and how the various decisions I made in life got me here. From the moment I began the book, I was hooked.

The story follows Nora Seed, a British woman in her mid-30s, who is deeply depressed. One night, she decides to commit suicide, but the overdose of sleeping pills sends her into a library between life and death. As time stands still, Nora gets to sample countless lives she could have lived.

This also hit home to me as I was once at the same point as Nora. Granted, I never got the point of actually attempting suicide, but my thoughts were certainly there. I remember thinking how no one would miss me if I was gone. I recall believing that I was more of a burden to people than anything. I was feeling so much depression and unhappiness, I didn’t think I would ever get out of that.

Spoiler Alert (sort of)

One review of the book offered these three lessons learned from the book:

  1. You could live a million lives and still not be satisfied.
  2. Your “best” life may still not be the right one for you to go through.
  3. Life won’t always give you an explanation, so just go on living.

Final Thoughts

The book was an easy read, yet at the same time made me think. This is the first book by Matt Haig I have ever read, but I think I may have to check out what else he has to offer. I think you will enjoy it if you give it a read.

Thoughts on The Measure

A week or so ago, I mentioned that I had started reading The Measure by Nikki Erlick. In case you missed it, here is the Goodreads “tease” about the book:

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like any other day. You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out.

But today, when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live.

From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise?

As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?

The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined, pen pals finding refuge in the unknown, a couple who thought they didn’t have to rush, a doctor who cannot save himself, and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything. 

My Thoughts

All in all, I found the book to be very good. I found it to be thought provoking and almost scary in regard to just how much of it I could relate to the world today.

There is so much division in the world today. Those divisions can be religious, racial, political, sexual and many other subdivisions. In the book, those divisions are based on the length of the string a person had. In the story, long strings mean a long life and short strings mean a short life. Throughout the story, we see the way “short stringers” are treated by “long stringers.” You could easily substitute “White, Straight, or Christian” for “long stringers” and “Black, Gay, and Atheist” for “Short stringers” and kind of apply the book to today.

In the story, there is a “short stringer” running for President. People are up in arms about voting for someone that they know could very well die in office. Lincoln, Kennedy, FDR, and a few others died in office and many would think that they were good Presidents. If people knew they were going to die, would they have been elected? If not, think of the possible alternate historical outcomes.

While the strings are the underlying theme of the book, as well as the thing that brings everything together, it is really about the 8 main characters and how they react to them. I found them to be believable and I really enjoyed how the lives of these characters all intersected and came together. I questioned a few things about a couple of the characters and then realized that the way they were written was something that was needed to compare with the strings.

There was a couple twists toward the end of the story that were unexpected. Some reviews I read said that the book left them in tears. I didn’t cry, but it certainly made an impact on me and I thought about it for a few days.

Would You Open Your Box?

There are characters in the book who do not open their box. They chose to live life without the knowledge of when they are going to die. They chose not to feel the burden of knowing they only have a short while, or relax knowing that they have a long life ahead of them.

As for the ones who know the length of their strings, we are shown the various feelings that go along with that. Husbands with long strings and their wives with short strings. How do you prepare for that? What if you were let go from your job, or not hired for one, because of the length of your string?

The book made me think about a lot. I would certainly recommend it.

Closing thoughts

I have said before that one of my “life quotes” was something I read in 1988: “Live every day as if it were your last. Some day, you’ll be right.” In the book, I read where someone had a sign or a t-shirt that read, “Live like a short stringer” or something to that effect. Same kind of thing.

Now that I am in my 50’s, I think often about wanting to be sure that I get the most out of the rest of my years. I want to experience all the joys of my marriage and make memories with my wife. I have 4 children – two of them under 3 years old. I want to witness all the things they do. I want to see graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. I want to experience daddy/daughter picnics and dances and once again coach t-ball and teach them how to throw a baseball.

Once you reach 50, life sort of begins the downward slope. I am eating right and losing weight because I want to be around for a long time. I don’t want to leave my family alone. I want to be there to offer the right advice. I want to be there to comfort any sadness. I want to be there to give praise and encouragement. I want to be there to share the happiness and sadness of life’s ups and downs.

I don’t have a string to tell me how long I’ll be here, but I plan on living each day to its fullest.

My Nose is in a Book

This is sad. The recent American Reading Habits Survey showed that over 50% of adults had not finished a book (printed or digital – no audiobooks) in the past year. The data also show that a quarter of the same adults have not read a full book in 1 or 2 years, while 11% more have not read a book in 3-5 years. The saddest find is that a tenth of adults have not read a full book in the last 10 years.

You can read more about the study here:

I would have thought MORE people would be reading, due to the pandemic. Apparently, that isn’t the case. For me, it is finding the time to read. Audio books are great for me because I am in the car so much. However, there is something about holding a book in my hand and turning the pages that I enjoy.

I always have a book in my work bag. I don’t always get the time to sit down with it, but there are those rare occasions where I can.

A friend recently recommended a new book they had finished and thought I might enjoy it. I believe that the book is the author’s first. It is called The Measure by Nikki Erlick.

I am about 100 pages in and so far I am enjoying it. The premise is intriguing and I’m interested to see where it goes. Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like any other day. You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out.

But today, when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live.

From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise?

As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?

The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined, pen pals finding refuge in the unknown, a couple who thought they didn’t have to rush, a doctor who cannot save himself, and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything. 

I hope to get some extra time this weekend to sit with it and maybe finish it. Maybe I will write a review when I am done.

After this book, I have another on the “to read” stack that I can’t wait to dive into:

The Lightning Rod by Brad Meltzer is the sequel to his book The Escape Artist (which I really enjoyed).

I hope that you are not one of those who didn’t read last year. The real world is a crazy place and sometimes we all need a good book to escape into. Any suggestions? I’m always open to hear them. How about YOU review a good book for me? I’d be happy to feature it here on my blog.

Time to get my nose back in this book ….