The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Paperback, 340 pages

English language

Published Nov. 13, 2019 by Ace.

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4 stars (4 reviews)

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 finds himself 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 …

2 editions

Fun Sherlock Holmes fantasy twist

5 stars

I enjoyed this Sherlock Holmes fantasy twist. I loved when the narrator breaks the fourth wall to apologize and tries to conceal the offending language spoken by some characters. It's a crazy world, different dimensions exist, time travel is possible, there are transgender and pansexual characters, humor, and hints of Lovecraftian/Gothic/Vampire-ish atmospheres.

Review of 'The Affair of the Mysterious Letter' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is "Lady Sherlock Holmes" plus "Inter-dimensional Travel, but also Vampires" so you should know if that's your jam. Also, as Dr. Science says, "we're all queer here." It is extravagantly, joyfully queer.

Lady Sherlock (Shaharazad Haas) is one of the colder versions of Sherlock, but Haas' calculating ennui is offset by Watson (Wyndham)'s warmth and concern, and charming narrative voice. Wyndham is convinced that Haas is fundamentally a good person; I'm less so, but I'm willing to stick around to find out.

Most of the charm in this book, for me, was in its writing. It's a little overwrought, as is appropriate in a Holmes pastiche, and one recurring joke was Wyndham's refusal to commit any vulgar language to paper, even thought it becomes very apparent that everyone around him is saying "fuck" all the time. He is also a little bit incapable of telling when men are flirting …

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4 stars