Mystery Book Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon

Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove

Synopsis:
It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.

Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…

Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realize that no one is beyond suspicion.

Review:
Sherlock and Watson head to a castle to help a young woman being haunted. Sherlock quickly discovers how someone is leaving the ominous twigs, but not who or why. Despite being unwelcome by most of the rest of the household, Sherlock continues his investigation as time is running out.

This latest Sherlock Holmes mystery is a bit of a slow burn. However, the characters are engaging and entertaining. I enjoyed this intriguing mystery. And it certainly kept me guessing the whole time. While part of the mystery was easy to uncover, I didn’t see the big reveal coming. I look forward to more installments from this author.

Book Review: Capturing the Devil

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis:
Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve encountered before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

Review:
Audrey Rose and Thomas arrive in New York and soon learn about a killer who seems reminiscent of their Ripper in London. Though they thought they had stopped him back in London. Clues lead the couple to Chicago and the World’s Fair, where people have been going missing. America’s first serial killer is their most evil foe yet.

Capturing the Devil is the fourth and final installment to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I enjoyed this take on HH Holmes, and several of his actual victims are mentioned or featured along the way. The story is quite a bit lengthier than its predecessors, as there is more of a developed side story with the romance between Audrey Rose and Thomas. I preferred the gothic, mystery storyline and was glad when they arrive in Chicago and the suspense increased. I only wish we had more time in the “Murder Hotel,” as the climactic showdown could have been played up even more. However, it was still intensely thrilling, with a fun epilogue. I certainly enjoyed this unique series.

Blu-Ray Review: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.”

Synopsis:
After the death of his wife, Carson Drew decides to leave Chicago behind and make a fresh start with his daughter in River Heights. But for 16-year-old Nancy Drew, life in a small town is mighty dull. She longs for excitement, adventure, and the chance to make a difference. Nancy gets that opportunity when she is asked to help solve the ghostly activity at the Twin Elms mansion. Can she help explain the creaking footsteps, exploding lightbulbs and the ominous creature? Is it the handiwork of high-school bully Derek Barnes? Or is it possible that the ghost of original owner Malcolm Colfax is back for revenge? Recruiting her best friends George and Bess, along with local “mean girl” Helen, Nancy Drew is on the case!

Review:
Nancy Drew is fearless and always up for an adventure. She also has a soft spot for those who can’t stick up for themselves. So, after the fallout of avenging her friend with a school bully, Nancy finds herself in community service. But helping out a sweet old lady with a ghost problem is just the thing she needs to save herself from boredom.

Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase resembles the second book in the Nancy Drew series of the same name. Though, this has obviously been modernized. Nancy, George, and Bess have very different looks and personalities. And this Nancy seems much more immature and brazen than her original character from the books. The story is intriguing and engaging. Though, most of the mystery is very predictable for any adult, children will still enjoy the suspense and silly humor. Despite the exciting suspense, it still remains lighthearted and fun. This family friendly film was a hit with my 9 and 11 year old nieces, who immediately wondered if there would be sequel.

Own it on Blu-Ray and DVD April 2!

Bonus Features:
A Sleuth, A Girl and an Inspiration (Featurette)
Pink Footprints: Touring Twin Elms (Featurette)
– Gag Reel

Book Review: The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Haunting of Torre Abbey

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Haunting of Torre Abbey by Carole Bugge

Synopsis:
Sherlock Holmes receives a request for aid from Lord Cary, whose family home, Torre Abbey, is seemingly haunted. While skeptical, Holmes believes that the Carys are in danger, a belief that proves horrifyingly accurate when a household member dies mysteriously. As strange sightings and threatening apparitions become almost commonplace, Holmes and Watson must uncover the secrets of the abbey if they are to have any hope of protecting the living and avenging the dead.

Review:
The Haunting of Torre Abbey is a fun and suspenseful mystery with everyone’s favorite detective. This has the feel of the original The Hound of the Baskervilles. Holmes makes astute observations and always seems miles ahead of everyone else. Though Watson is brilliant as well, as we get his point of view. When I thought I had the mystery figured out, I was only partially right. There are several surprises and overall an intriguing mystery that I won’t soon forget. I can’t get enough of Sherlock, so I’m grateful for this Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series.

Book Review: And Then There Were Four

And Then There Were Four by Nancy Werlin

Synopsis:
When a building collapses around five teenagers—and they just barely escape—they know something strange is going on. Little by little, the group pieces together a theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all. Is it true? And if so, how did their parents come together—and why? And, most importantly, how can the five of them work together to save themselves? With an unlikely group of heroes, sky-high stakes, and two budding romances, this gripping murder mystery will keep readers guessing until the last page.

Review:
Five very different teenagers are drawn together by a traumatic experience with a suspicious cause. They aren’t sure who messaged them all to the meeting where the all could have died. But one of their parents had the means of bringing the building down. As crazy as it sounds, the teens start with a theory; and pieces begin falling into place as they investigate.

And Then There Were Four is a fast-paced thrilling whodunit. The character development was exceptional – especially for the narrators. The narrative itself is a bit strange – with one speaking in first person past tense and another in second person present tense – every other chapter. I’m not sure why that distracting choice was made other than to make the two voices more distinct. Thankfully, I was able to get used to it and enjoy the story that proved to be heart-pounding suspense with several fun twists along the way.

Book Review: The Blacklist: The Beekeeper No. 159

The Blacklist: The Beekeeper No. 159 by Steven Piziks

Synopsis:
Raymond Reddington brings Elizabeth Keen a new Blacklister: the Bodysnatcher, an unnamed, unknown man who has turned kidnapping into an art form. But when Lizzie and the team move to intercept the Bodysnatcher, they discover that he is not their real target. Their real target is much more sinister and it will take all their strength and dedication to resist him – and to discover what Reddington is really after.

Review:
The Bodysnatcher has been stealing away people and handing them over to a cult-like group led by the Beekeeper. When following the Bodysnatcher, Liz and their strike team are ambushed and several of the group are either killed or taken by the Beekeeper. And Liz must use all of her skills to out-think and trick her captor to stay clear-headed enough to escape.

This original Blacklist novel is set sometime last season. Mind-washing cults are already creepy, but adding in a guy with such incredible resources made the suspense even more intense and exciting. Fans of the show will enjoy this thriller where Liz gets to shine. I have enjoyed Liz’s character growth throughout the seasons from a naive and reserved person to the bold and confident woman she has become. The author has done a great job of keeping the characters true and developing an original story that hasn’t been done before. With plenty of fun twists along the way, this story is a great addition to the series.

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