In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters.
Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.
When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham is drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark.
But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas’ stock-in-trade.
Review of The Affair of the Mysterious Letter
Sherlock Holmes as played by Shaharazad Haas and Dr. Watson as played by John Wyndham. Two very different people who end up as roomies.
A list of Miss Viola’s past, er, complications (i.e. the suspects) provides the map to tracking down a mysterious blackmailer. As each suspect is ticked off by way of an altogether too adventurous adventure (life and limbs are always at stake), Dr. Watson learns more and more about his new roommate. That is, she is absolutely insane. And brilliant. The adventures serve to develop the characters, describe the ridiculous multiverse they live in, and showcase the authors creative mind.
In the end, the only clue they needed was offered quite early in the book. I snatched it there and was not disappointed to learn I knew the blackmailer all along, though motive was not revealed to me until the end. Ultimately, most of the adventures with the suspects proved fruitless in identifying the culprit and were a waist of my reading time — except for the aforementioned outputs.
Still a fun read, though and I can give the book 4 stars for being extremely inventive and wonderfully weird.
Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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