Monthly Archives: September 2020

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Warlock Holmes – The Finality Problem

Warlock Holmes - The Finality Problem by G.S. Denning

Warlock Holmes – The Finality Problem by G.S. Denning
Amy Caudill‘s review

This paranormal, comic tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original characters includes a simple-minded yet incredibly powerful mage in Warlock Holmes, a John Watson that is the real deductive genius behind the duo’s adventures, and a cast of assorted supernatural sidekicks and baddies. 

Picking up where the last book left off, the fifth volume of the spoof series, Warlock Holmes: The Finality Problem, finds Watson ensconced with the wife Holmes selected to be soul-bonded to him and banned from helping Holmes for his own safety.   Off course, a little thing like not being able to find 221B Baker Street is not going to keep Watson out of trouble for long. 

After all, Watson has become so accustomed to the supernatural world that it seeks him out in his own home; it is invited to his wife’s parties, and seeks his council.  Naturally Groggson and Lestrade need Watson as well, and only Warlock’s insistence and vanishing spells can keep them away for so long. 

In tribute to the original books, Watson and Holmes are reunited just in time for Holmes to make a fateful visit to Reichenbach Falls, but the book ends on a, pardon the pun, cliffhanger, as the greatest of evil spirits are released with no Warlock to stop them.  (Thus Watson’s fatalistic retelling of events as if the world is about to end.  He believes it to be true.)

I’ve read every book in this series so far, and I have greatly enjoyed every minute of them.  As a fan of Sherlock Holmes and paranormal stories, I love the mash-up Denning has created, and am impressed with how he’s largely stayed true to the style and time of the original work, while inserting his own tweaks and complicated plots that link each story with the next and prior volumes.  While there are countless imitators of Conan Doyle out there, this author has managed to put and keep an original spin on the series that adds elements of horror, humor, and potential world-altering events.

I award this book five stars and wait to see if Warlock Holmes, like his namesake, will rise again in another book. 

How Will You Celebrate Fall (In a Year of Crisis?)

How do you show your appreciation for the season? Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

While the weather is definitely starting to cool off here in the Midwest, and a number of leaves are already falling to the ground, many of the other usual signs of the season are muted this year.  I have seen a few of the neighbors changing the décor on their front porches, and there are pumpkins for sale in the local grocery stores, but, not much else. 

There are less Halloween decorations and costumes available, less talk about the season on the news, for obvious reasons.  This year we are under a quarantine, which means even in areas that do allow for trick-or-treating it is unlikely that many will feel safe allowing their families’ participation, not without justification.

I remember when my children were young, the year of the awful events of 9/11, and the nation was gripped by terror.  That year, following those eye-opening and life-changing tragic events, many families were in fear of going out, of taking part in normal events.  We flew American flags in defiance, all the while waiting for the next attack, the next crisis. 

When Halloween came around that year, fearing for our children’s safety but not wanting to deny them the joy of the season, we stayed home and invited the extended family over for our own celebration.

All the children came in costume, and the adults were assigned different rooms, hallways, and corners of the limited space with a bag or bowl of candy to give out so the kids could “trick-or-treat” before we had a party with games, food, and creepy music.  Later, we would recall that Halloween as one of the best we ever celebrated, despite the fear that inspired the planning.

The point I wish to make is, don’t let the current situation get you down.  Yes, we are under threat, yes we must take precautions, but that does not mean you cannot enjoy the season.  If it makes you happy, decorate for fall.  Festoon your space with mums, pumpkins, and what have you (I already have a few of my own in place.)  While circumstances dictate we must adhere to a certain amount of isolation, we can still enjoy ourselves and allow our kids to have fun and make memories that will last.

However you decide to celebrate, or even if you choose not to, I hope you get the chance to enjoy the beauty of the crisp air, the brilliant colors, the tantalizing aromas, and the sweet tastes of the season.  Happy Fall!

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Amy Caudill‘s review 

Ten strangers from different walks of life meet as they embark for an island off the coast of the English shore, the invited guests and newly hired staff for the mysterious owners.  These ten people soon realize none of them have actually ever met their hosts/employers, just as a storm strands them there, with no way to communicate with the mainland.  Then, the bodies start piling up, as the unwitting residents realize a murderer walks among them.

This beloved Agatha Christie story, originally published in 1939, has also been published under the title, Ten Little Indians, and has been produced, and imitated, multiple times as movies, plays, television shows, and has served as inspiration for other author’s works.  In some versions the guests are stranded on a snowy mountain that can only be reached by cable car, but much of the plot remains the same.

Dame Christie’s plot draws on an old children’s poem, which the murderer, unknown to the end, utilizes as both inspiration and methodology.  The poem, alternately called “Ten Little Indians” or “Ten Little Soldiers,” depending on the version, details grisly ways these unfortunates decrease in number until all have met their fate.

It takes several deaths for the remaining party to realize that their numbers are dwindling, in accordance with the rhyme.  However, they still have difficulty reconciling how the killer can perform these outrageous deeds, unseen and unknown, especially on an isolated island.  Wittier guests realize that the murderer must have set things up ahead of time, but repeated searches of the island prove futile as the body count rises, and the survivors grow more and more suspicious of each other.

What the “tribunal,” presided over by Justice Wargrave, a retired judge, determines is, in accordance with a recorded message left for the party on the first night, each of the guests has participated in a wrongful death or murder, but has escaped justice in some manner.  Each victim first denies and then admits the truth, if only in their own mind, before their demise.

Still, the reader is left wondering clear to the end of the story as to the actual identity of the murderer, as several good suspects fall prey to the unseen killer.  In fact, Christie only reveals the actual murderer after the end of the story, in a document attached to the end, like an afterward, which reveals the murderer’s thoughts and actions in his/her own words.

It is not surprising that this story is one of the best-selling books of all times, and is a tribute to the author is work is so absorbing and timeless.

I give this book five stars, and recommend it to all fans of mystery, crime, and to any who have ever watched a movie or television production based on Agatha Christie’s work.

It’s Labor Day Time Again!

This coming weekend marks American holiday Labor Day.  Though the official holiday is Monday, September 7th, for many the celebrations will begin this Friday and continue throughout the extended weekend.

Photo by Aaron Schwartz on Pexels.com

What a year it’s been!  At this time last year, most of us were planning to celebrate this American holiday in our own style-with family and neighborhood gatherings, cookouts, and fireworks shows.  What a difference a year can make!  Now, many of us fear, not unreasonably so, to venture out unless absolutely necessary.

Labor Day, officially a federal holiday celebrating the efforts of American workers, and unofficially the” last hurrah of summer,” means many things to different people.  Some take it as a welcome break from work, as federal and state offices will be closed, as well as many businesses.  For others, it’s about shopping the big sales, or an excuse to party, or just a last summer blowout as children are returning to school.

This year, though many schools are finally back in session, albeit many are using a method of staggered attendance, the holiday doesn’t have quite the same meaning.  Many, my husband included, are still working at home and will be for the foreseeable future. 

However, for many, including the adults in my family, it is still a paid holiday we intend to enjoy.  While we are planning a cookout, we will be having a smaller crowd this year, and any shopping we do will probably be accomplished online.  Still, the day gives us a perfect excuse to pull out our smoker, and prepare too much good food, which will furnish leftovers for a few days at least.

Labor Day also means that autumn is just around the corner, and I’m already looking forward to cooler temperatures, putting up fall and Halloween decorations, and planning autumn treats to bake and share.

While the world is a vastly different place right now, we still can take joy in the day and wherever else we can find it.  I choose to be optimistic that things will get better.  In the meantime, we need to continue about our lives as best we can.  This means planning as near a normal holiday celebration as possible, and rejoicing in the time we have as a family.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Amy