New general fiction titles

Cag9780719816994ed Angel by Anne Marie Vukelic

And so he stood now, as he had done since the first moment he had taken a room opposite her house: watching. He let the curtain fall, and on the glass remained a smear where his face had been. ‘Angela…’ he whispered the name to himself. ‘Like an angel…’

Through his journal of bloodstained poems and deranged fantasies, the frenzied consciousness of the barrister Richard Dunn is revealed, as he pursues the young heiress Angela Burdett-Coutts relentlessly through the streets of Victorian London.Driven by a fixation that binds him to her through the years, the reader shares his moments of fluctuating sanity and madness as he wrestles with his delusions.With the aid of influential figures of her time – the writer Charles Dickens, the Duke of Wellington and the scientist Charles Wheatstone – Angela seeks to deal with the pain of family secrets, while refusing to be defeated by Dunn’s obsession for her.

Anne-Marie Vukelic

Anne-Marie Vukelic was born in Codsall, South Staffordshire in 1967 and went on to attend St Peter’s School in Wolverhampton. In the 1980s, she moved to Austria but has now returned to the UK. Vukelic is a lifelong enthusiast of both Victorian history and psychology and currently works as a health and social care manager. She continues to live and work in the West Midlands. Her two previous novels, Far Above Rubies and The Butterflies are Free, were published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Caged Angel here.

Duty and Deception by Roberta Grieve9780719816987

Anna Grayson has been a dutiful, loyal and obedient daughter her whole life but her world is transformed when she meets the lively and outspoken Mitchell sisters, employees in her father’s factory, who awaken her interest in the women’s suffrage movement. Anna soon abandons her unfaltering obedience to her father to join them and attend a forbidden rally. This new world of excitement and freedom comes with risks. No longer sheltered by her father’s protection, Anna is forced to grow up quickly when tragedy strikes at a rally and her beloved new friend Lily Mitchell is knocked down by a motorcar and killed. Anna suspects it is no accident. Suddenly the world outside no longer seems so enticing. Convinced of foul play, Anna enlists the help of young doctor, Daniel Peters. At first, he is dismissive of her claim that Lily was pushed into the road – who would want to kill her? – but she persuades him to join her fight to uncover the truth and find justice for Lily.

Roberta Grieve

Roberta Grieve has always loved writing and when she took an early retirement, after working for West Sussex Library Service for over twenty years, she was determined to turn her hobby into a second career. Her first book was published in 1998 and since then she has had many stories and articles published.She is secretary of the Chichester Writers’ Circle and editor of the Chichester Literary Society’s quarterly newsletter. In her spare time she enjoys painting and walking, although writing and research always take precedence. She lives in Chichester, West Sussex.

Buy your copy of Duty and Deception here.

9780719817069The Rescuer by R. S. Hill

Bideford, Devon, April 1873: the River Torridge is in flood. Almost as soon as she sets foot in the town, Abigail March saves a young woman from drowning. Abigail, the daughter of a progressive Canadian politician, is in Bideford on official business, deputizing for her father. Accompanied by Inspector Theo Newton of Scotland Yard, she has travelled to the West Country to inspect the cache of smuggled weapons being guarded by the local borough police. That night, the woman Abigail saved is murdered and the weapons disappear. The police make an arrest, but when Abigail befriends Norman, the twelve-year-old brother of the accused man, she and Newton realize that the police have made a mistake which could have tragic consequences. At first, Newton is bewildered by Abigail. He has little experience of women and her forthrightness and ideas about women’s rights unsettle him. But, as their relationship progresses, Newton is inspired by her example. Spurred on by Abigail’s fearless determination and her sympathy for those less fortunate than herself, Newton shows bravery and strength, as they works tirelessly together to solve the case and uncover the truth.

R. S. Hill

R. S. Hill was born and grew up in North Devon. He taught EFL in Greece, became Head of Department in comprehensive schools and later a local authority consultant. He now writes full time. He has contributed travel, local history and educational articles to various magazines and newspapers. An experienced Western writer, The Rescuer is his first foray into crime writing.

Buy your copy of The Rescuer here.

Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Batavia by Jeremy Kingston9780719816116

When Holmes and Watson are visited at Baker Street by a frightened figure in a stovepipe hat, their interest is immediately piqued. The bizarre man turns out to be the reclusive Prince Alexander, the only son of the King of the Netherlands. In despair, he relays his suspicions to them about a plot to steal the throne, a jilted marriage proposal, and an attempted poisoning. The detective and his assistant agree to help solve the case and quickly enter a dazzling world of power, inheritance and ambition. Passing between the grandeur of The Langham and Claremont House, Holmes and Watson meet an array of enchanting and mysterious characters, each with their part to play in the struggle for the throne. With stakes this high, the game is bound to get dirty. With chapter headings derived from the titles of Conan Doyle’s short stories, Kingston cleverly weaves together the explosions in London, the extinction of the male line of the Dutch royal house of Orange, and the death of Queen Victoria’s favourite and haemophiliac son, the Duke of Albany.

Jeremy Kingston

Jeremy Kingston is a playwright, novelist and poet. For many years he was also a theatre critic, reviewing plays for the magazine Punch and then as a critic on The Times. His most recent play was Making Dickie Happy where he imagined Noel Coward, Agatha Christie and Lord Louis (Dickie) Mountbatten happening to meet at the start of their careers at an island hotel off the coast of Devon. Two volumes of his poetry have been published. He was born in London, brought up in various Home Counties and now lives again in London.

Buy your copy of Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Batavia here.

9780719816765The Upton Undertakers by Kerry Tombs

March 1891. A group of mourners gather for a funeral in a small country churchyard in Worcestershire, but events do not go according to plan. An old friend invites Detective Inspector Ravenscroft to investigate, and before long the detective and his associate Constable Tom Crabb are embroiled in the dark world of the Upton Undertakers. Their long and dangerous investigation takes the duo across the country, from Temple in London, to the ancient Shropshire market of Ludlow, to a strange educational establishment near Bromyard. Ravenscroft eventually draws the case to a dramatic conclusion, only to find that fate has one last surprising trick to play. This is the seventh book in the thrilling Victorian Inspector Ravenscroft series.

Kerry Tombs

Kerry Tombs was born in Smethwick, near Birmingham. After a career teaching in both England and Australia, he moved to Malvern where he became a genealogist, lecturer and bookseller. He currently lives in Ludlow, Shropshire. There are six previous books in the Inspector Ravenscroft series, including the Tewkesbury Tomb and The Droitwich Deceivers.

Buy your copy of The Upton Undertakers here.

Advertisements

New fiction titles

9780719816086An Oxford Tragedy by Norman Russell

1894, Sir Montague Fowler, warden of St Michael’s College, Oxford, dies from apparent natural causes but an autopsy reveals that his body was full of the deadly poison mercuric chloride. Detective Antrobus of the Oxford city police is summoned to investigate. Who would benefit most from the warden’s death? His three children are all in desperate need of money and each are embroiled in their own scandal. Antrobus’s list of suspects grows as it seems everyone had something to gain from the death. Aided by pioneer physician, Sophia Jex-Blake, the detective sets about unravelling the truth behind this Oxford tragedy.

Norman Russell was born in Lancashire but has lived most of his life in Liverpool. After graduating from Jesus College, Oxford, he served a term in the army and was later awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He now writes full-time. Among his previous novels published by Robert Hale are Depths of Destruction, The Dorset House Affair and The Calton Papers.

Buy your copy of An Oxford Tragedy here.

9780719815607

Imperfect Pretence by Ann Barker

Max Persault loves his sea-faring life as a ship-owner and merchant. When his cousin Alistair, the newly elevated Duke of Haslingfield, appeals for his help, he finds himself masquerading as the duke and on his way to Cromer, while Alistair sets off to France to complete an undercover mission. Before even arriving at his destination, Max has aroused the suspicions of Miss Constance Church. Constance struggles with her misgivings about Max. At first dismissing him, she soon begins to suspect that there may be much more to him than meets the eye. In this lively and comedic tale of love and masquerade, first impressions are questioned, judgments are upturned and pretences must eventually come undone.

Ann Barker was born and brought up in Bedfordshire, but currently lives in Norfolk. For more information about Ann Barker and her books, please go to http://www.AnnBarker.com.

Buy your copy of Imperfect Pretence here.

9780719815843Give Me Tomorrow by Jeanne Whitmee

The Davies family is as dysfunctional as they come. When Frank marries a younger woman, Susan, his ten-year-old daughter Louise feels pushed out, and even more so when baby Karen arrives. Now, years later, with her father gone, Louise feels even more the odd one out. Obsessed with finding her birth mother, she distances herself from her family, hiding the truth of her flailing acting career from them, and spitefully makes trouble for Karen whenever the opportunity arises. Karen meanwhile wants to return to her career as a teacher after baby Peter is born, but her husband Simon has other ideas. Susan longs to see her girls reconciled and to pick up the threads of her own life again.Eventually each one, in her own way, is shown the path to happiness. But will they take it?

Jeanne Whitmee originally trained as an actress and later taught Speech and Drama until taking up writing full-time. She has written many novels including Too Late to Paint the Roses, To Dream Again and True Colours, also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Give Me Tomorrow here.

9780719813009Sherlock Holmes and the Unholy Trinity by Paul Gilbert

A colourfully dressed Bedouin interrupts the breakfast of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson with a cryptic message of warning: they must stay away from the affairs of his people. Before long the detective and his assistant are dispatched to the Vatican to investigate the murder of Cardinal Tosca. Considered the Pope’s natural successor, Tosca was killed as he worked on the translation of an ancient scroll. All clues point towards Holmes and Watson’s Bedouin intruder and there are whispers of the involvement of a so-called ‘unholy trinity’. The duo embark upon a dangerous trip to Egypt, the birthplace of the Coptic Church, to uncover the nature of a parchment missing from Cardinal Tosca’s office and, ultimately, the motives of the Bedouin.

Paul D. Gilbert was born in North London and now lives in Harrow with his wife Jackie and their two sons. As well as his passion for the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, he also enjoys history, science-fiction and Tai Chi. His previous two novels, Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra and The Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes, were also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Unholy Trinity here.

New general fiction titles

A Close Connection by Patricia Fawcett9780719814471

Eleanor and Henry Nightingale, and Paula and Alan Walker, are two very different couples brought together by the marriage of Nicola, the Nightingales’ daughter, to Matthew, the Walkers’ son. A holiday in Italy, intended to bring the four closer together, creates both bonds and rifts with long lasting effects. On their returning home, a health scare brings Eleanor’s life into sharp focus and she calls on Paula, who will soon experience her own struggles, to help. Meanwhile, Nicola and Matthew’s marriage is facing its own crisis point. Will these historicthree marriages survive such turmoil?

Born in Preston, Lancashire, Patricia Fawcett now lives in Devon, close to her family. She divides her time between writing, being a lively grandmother and a volunteer at a National Trust property. She is a member of the West Country Writer’s Association. Her previous novels include Best Laid Plans and A Small Fortune, both published by Robert Hale. You can find out more about Patricia at http://www.patriciafawcett.co.uk.

Buy your copy of A Close Connection here.

9780719814907A Killer Past by Maris Soule

Mary Harrington doesn’t want to revive her past. She certainly doesn’t want her son and granddaughter to know what she did forty four years ago. But when two teenagers from a local gang try to mug her, old habits are hard to forget. Sergeant Jack Rossini, Rivershore, Michigan’s lone investigative detective, initially doesn’t believe an ‘old’ woman could have put the youths in the hospital, but once he meets Mary, he becomes curious. That curiosity grows when he discovers there’s no record of her existence prior to forty four years ago. Mary and Jack’s lives continue to intersect as the gang vows to teach Mary a lesson, and a man from Mary’s past arrives in Rivershore, threatening to reveal her secrets.

Born and raised in California, Maris Soule was studying for a master’s degree at U.C. Santa Barbara when she was swept off her feet by a red-head with blue eyes. Soule now lives in Michigan, a quarter mile from Lake Michigan, with an oversized Rhodesian Ridgeback and the same red-head. Maris Soule is on Facebook, Twitter (@marisSouthHaven), and LinkedIn. She also writes a weekly blog on writing and Rhodesian Ridgebacks http://marissoule.com/blog/.

Buy your copy of A Killer Past here.

9780719814990Sherlock Holmes and the Four Corners of Hell by Séamas Duffy

The Adventure of the Soho Picture: When murders are accompanied by unmistakable symbols of ritualism, Holmes’s trail leads to a respected peer of the realm and he unearths a web of vice, deception, and intrigue beneath Victorian society’s respectable veneer.

The Adventure of the Edmonton Horror: A case which causes the wildest speculation, and seems destined to join the apocrypha in Holmes’s ‘uncommonplace book’ – a collection of the strangest and most mysterious occurrences ever recorded in the capital. Is it a matter for a detective, a clergyman, or an occultist?

The Adventure of the Rotherhithe Ship-breakers: Holmes tracks down a would-be assassin, yet no one is certain whom the bullet was meant for. The investigation leads Holmes to one of the foulest, most dangerous corners of riverside London, a criminal plague spot which even the locals call the Four Corners of Hell.

Séamas Duffy lives and works in Glasgow. He is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of Scotland, author of Sherlock Holmes in Paris (Black Coat Press, 2013), and wrote the Foreword to The Aggravations of Minnie Ashe, by Cyril Kersh (Valancourt Books, 2014).

Buy your copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Four Corners of Hell here.

9780719815423

The Tolpuddle Woman by E. V. White

Wesley Gillam has had little chance of romance, growing up in a strict Methodist household in the Dorset village of Tolpuddle. It’s his headstrong brother Saul who’s ignored his parents’ wishes and has turned his attention to local girl Saranna Vye. Wes first sets eyes on Saranna at Dorchester market when she warns him of vagrants plotting to steal his takings, and as he walks home at the end of the day he can’t get the image of her waif-like beauty out of his mind. But when Wes learns she’s his brother’s girl, family loyalty stands in the way of romance. Wes knows in his heart what he wants, but with tensions mounting in the West Country, as farm labourers suffer from crippling wage cuts and rickburners storm the land in protest, Wes is committed to protecting his fellow countrymen from the law’s injustice, before he has the freedom to pursue his most cherished dream.

E.V. Thompson was born in London. After a spell in the Royal Navy, and then at Rhodesia’s Department of Civil Aviation Security Section, he returned to England. His novels have won him thousands of admirers around the world. In 2011 E.V. Thompson was awarded an MBE for services to literature and to the Cornish community. Ernest died in 2012.

Buy your copy of The Tolpuddle Woman here.

The immortality of Sherlock Holmes, and why he lives on

Jeremy Kingston

What marks out Sherlock Holmes as different from all other fictional characters is his inexhaustible capacity for inspiring new adventures.  Favourite characters from other books – notably those by Jane Austen and Dickens – have appeared in sequels and prequels and sexed-up adaptations, but almost without exception they are set in the time when the characters first made their appearance.  With Holmes it is very different. Arthur Conan Doyle may have brought him out of retirement to break up a German spy ring in 1914, but a quarter of a century later he was battling the Nazis in a popular series of movies. Basil Rathbone played him as an athletic man in middle age though, logically, he should then have been pushing ninety.

The modern BBC adaptation, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

The modern BBC adaptation, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

The jump across time-space is even more striking in the ongoing TV series Sherlock where Benedict Cumberbatch’s urbane Holmes and Martin Freeman’s steely Watson race through the streets of an up-to-the-minute city dominated by the London Eye.  Here, the vital clue is likely to be found on the screen of a mobile.  Doyle’s Holmes would not have told Inspector Lestrade to ‘piss off’, nor would the original Watson have called Holmes, even if genially, an idiot.  These are the heroes of an absolutely contemporary crime thriller.

The pace of the action is far faster than in its predecessors but Holmes and Watson, while different in so many ways, are somehow still the same, because what is significant about them has to stay the same. No one in the history of the world has ever been as observant as Holmes, or been able to draw such perfectly exact conclusions from what he observes.  He is human but also superhuman, and it is this shifting combination that helps to bring about the rich range of performances from the many actors who have brought him to life on stage and screen, from Robert Downey Jr. to Cumberbatch. He is impossibly perfect but this does not make him perfect. He has his faults, loads of them; the Cumberbatch version admits he is a sociopath; he is a bully, rude, impatient and totally fascinating. For someone to possess such failings and yet be on the side of good – and successful in making the good side win – gives him his heroic stature.  We want to believe in the existence of such a person, even while we know it to be impossible. It is what tempts countless writers to put him in new situations, set either in the Victorian age or today.

Dr Watson is the loyal companion.  At first he was the amazed onlooker, knowledgeable in his own field but panting to keep up with the quicksilver deductions of his friend.  Over time he lost some of his stolid nature but continued to be what could be called ‘the typical Englishman.’  But as the English type changed, so has Watson. At the start of Sherlock he has returned from fighting in Afghanistan – just as in his very first appearance in the 1880s – but this time he admits that he was thrilled to be in the excitement of battle.  His character has become close to Holmes in craving excitement to stave off the boredom of a quiet life.

This film adaptation, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, was released in 2011.

Because so many variations can be played on the theme of their fight against crime, there seems no reason why writers will ever stop finding them an inspiration.  Their opponents can be of all kinds and the struggle set almost anywhere. Even back in the period when they first appeared, which is where I set my own version, Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Batavia. Mine is the London, the Camargue and the Cannes of the 1880s. As in so many of the Doyle originals, the fate of nations hangs upon the outcome and royal families are involved.

I was spurred into writing it by some curious events in my own life; just like Holmes, my father retired to Eastbourne after living in Crowborough – where Conan Doyle lived – and became a bee-keeper. I could have started the adventure without any explanation of how Dr Watson’s manuscript had suddenly emerged but I was keen to make it all feel as real and seemingly truthful as possible, and the Eastbourne-Crowborough connection offered a way of doing so – helped by imagining a solicitor in whose vaults the manuscript had long been interred.

Where the writers of Sherlock must have found great fun slipping some original incidents, neatly disguised, into their plots, I greatly enjoyed doing the same, the intention being to suggest that my Dr Watson is writing what truly happened but which he had to disguise for publication. The story of Holmes and Watson will never be done. They are men for all seasons.

Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Batavia by Jeremy Kingston will be published by Robert Hale in July 2015.

OUT NOW: Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David WhiteheadSteve Hayes is a prolific novelist and also has enjoyed a fantastic career as a screenwriter in America.

David Whitehead has lived in London his whole life and can lay claim to a large body of work for Robert Hale.

To read what Hayes and Whitehead think of writing as a team, click here for our interview.

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

A brazen daylight robbery at Christie’s becomes the talk of London, but Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are no longer in the business of solving crime. Holmes has retired to Sussex, to keep bees, and Watson, recently widowed, has returned to general practice. But when Watson, desperate for distraction, agrees to accompany his old friend to Vienna, to visit eminent neurologist, Sigmund Freud, it is not long before the pair are pulled back into the murky world of ruthless criminals bent on abduction, intimidation and murder.

A shadowy terrorist group, The Black Hand, is plaguing the city, and when the tentacles of a crime committed in England reach across to Vienna to cil around Harry Houdini, the famous American escapologist, the Great Detective and his Boswell relish the chance of solving yet another puzzle.

Praise for the series

‘An entertaining addition to the genre. Recommended.’ – Historical Novels Review

‘Will more than satisfy the Holmes fans’ – Shotsmag

‘A fast-paced and intriguing tale’ – MyShelf.com

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%

Sherlock Holmes and the King of Clubs by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

OUT NOW: Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David WhiteheadSteve Hayes is a prolific novelist and also has enjoyed a fantastic career as a screenwriter in America.

David Whitehead has lived in London his whole life and can lay claim to a large body of work for Robert Hale.

Praise for the book:

‘Will more than satisfy the Holmes fans’ – Shotsmag

‘A fast-paced and intriguing tale’ – MyShelf.com

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead Synopsis

Following a prolonged cocaine binge, Sherlock Holmes is closer to death than Dr Watson has ever seen him before. Fearing for his friend’s wellbeing, the pair repair to France, there to enjoy a leisurely convalescence at the home of Holmes’s old friend, Henri Gillet.

But even before they reach Paris they become embroiled in a perilous mystery of the like even they have never encountered before. Who, for example, is the strange man with the peculiar fascination for raindrops? And why does someone want one of France’s most beloved novelists dead? Before the final explosive confrontation, Holmes and Watson must tangle with a cold and calculating brotherhood for which no crime is too ghastly, especially if it helps to further their own sinister ends…

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead is out now with a limited time only discount of 30%.

Sherlock Holmes and the Knave of Hearts by Steve Hayes and David Whitehead

OUT TODAY: The Annals of Sherlock Holmes by Paul D. Gilbert

The Annals of Sherlock Holmes by Paul GilbertPaul Gilbert was born in North London and now lives in Harrow with his wife Jackie and their two sons. As well as his passion for the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, he also enjoys history, science-fiction and Tai Chi. The Annals of Sherlock Holmes follows his previous novels, The Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra, also published by Robert Hale.

THE ANNALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

This sparkling collection of three new Sherlock Holmes stories draw on details and hints from the pages of Conan Doyle’s classic works. From the pen of the acclaimed Doctor John Watson we are introduced to previously unsolved mysteries as referenced in many of the original stories.

Praise for the Author:

‘Gilbert perfectly strikes the acidic, sarcastic yet humorous tone of the famous detective’ – Historical Novels Review

‘Plenty of plot twists, [it] should be popular with Holmes devotees’ – Ilford Recorder

‘Gilbert’s Sherlock Holmes speaks with an authentic voice. He is expertly and faithfully rendered’ – Better Holmes & Gardens

‘A remarkably original collection’ – Tangled Web UK

‘Gilbert has really captured the essence of Sherlock Holmes’ – Euro Crime

The Annals of Sherlock Holmes is available to buy from today with a limited time only discount of 30%

The Annals of Sherlock Holmes by Paul Gilbert

OUT TODAY: Sherlock Holmes at the Breakfast Table by L.F.E. Coombs

Sherlock Holmes at the Breakfast Table by LFE CoombsL.F.E. Coombs is a true polymath whose interests include the writings and work of Conan Doyle, and he is a self-confessed Holmesaphile. His interests also cover Victorian Britain, as well as naval, military, air force and transport technologies. In addition to books and articles for magazines, he has written extensively on aerial locomotion and he is an editor and publisher’s reader.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE BY L.F.E. COOMBS – OFFICIAL BLURB

Sherlock Holmes at the Breakfast Table is a sparkling new collection of the further adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. It is unique in combining the style and intrigue of Holmes and Watson stories with the developing technology of turn-of-the-century Victorian England.

Written in the original Strand Magazine style and told by Holmes’ companion, Dr John Watson, these previously untold tales unfold with wit and humour and most are recounted or begin at the breakfast table. Although told in the classic Holmes style, these adventures see the pair involved in telegraphy, flying-machines, a horseless carriage, chemistry, naval weapons and advanced steam engines. Holmes applies his highly developed powers of deduction to whole new fields of understanding, and the stories deftly mingle fiction with facts and events of the day.

Sherlock Holmes at the Breakfast Table by L.F.E. Coombs is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%.

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds Review on MyShelf

In the recent Myshelf review of Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds, written by Hale writing team Steve Hayes and David Whitehead, the book was called “refreshing” and “different”.

“…you can expect a fast-paced and intriguing tale with plenty of action and a good feel for the seamy side of Victorian London.”

Read the full review at MyShelf

To see what Hayes and Whitehead think about writing as a team, check out our author interview with the pair.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE QUEEN OF DIAMONDS – SYNOPSIS

Thomas Howard of Missouri came out of nowhere, one foggy night, to rescue Countess Elaina Montague from rape and robbery. He was in England, he said, to find his brother, who had disappeared. To repay him, the beautiful Countess offered to enlist her friend, Sherlock Holmes, to help in the search.

At the time Holmes was investigating a rash of audacious jewel-thefts, and much to Watson’s dismay spending altogether too much time at the music-hall. But because the Great Detective felt that there was more to the mysterious Mr Howard than met the eye, he accepted the case.

This in turn led to their involvement in a vicious blood-feud, a spectacular – not to mention death-defying – daylight robbery, the possibility of a serious diplomatic incident and finally, a thrilling climax below the brooding River Thames.

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds is out now in hardback

Author Interview: Steve Hayes and David Whitehead Discuss Sherlock Holmes and Writing as a Team

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds was released by Robert Hale last month and sees Holmes brought in to help a friend track down a missing person. Authors Steve Hayes and David Whitehead talk about what it’s like to write as a team and what drew them to Sherlock Holmes.

How did your writing partnership come about and what made you want to write as a team?

David: Steve had written a Black Horse Western called Gun for Revenge, which I enjoyed very much. A mutual friend named Tom McNulty, who saw the review I posted to the Yahoo Black Horse Westerns group, mentioned it to Steve. Steve emailed me to say thanks and I guess we both just clicked from there. As our friendship grew we discovered that there were certain subjects or projects we were both drawn to, and the idea to collaborate sprang from that. It’s an amazing thing—here is one half of the team in sunny California, the other in not-so-sunny Suffolk, England. We’ve never met but have spent countless hours on the phone and indeed talk every day. While we are in many ways complete opposites, it’s those very differences that somehow gel to make a very happy and productive whole.

Steve: Exactly. This is a partnership that almost didn’t happen. As David mentioned, but for McNulty I never would have read the review or contacted David. Once I did, and we got to know each other, I realized he was as serious about writing as I was and did not expect me to do all the work, as other collaborators have in the past. I’ve written with many famous writers, some who have won Academy Awards, and so I was well-tutored in the ways of collaboration. I just needed to know that Dave was a true professional. After that, the rest was easy.

What are the ups and downs of writing as a team?

David: I think it can easily become a perilous path if you don’t have the right attitude going into it. Steve and I both park our egos at the door. Neither one of us has any desire to upstage the other. If one of us comes out with a particularly dazzling idea or turn of phrase, that’s great, because it reflects well on the other one. There is of course much discussion and a fair bit of give and take, but overall I believe we have enjoyed a very cordial and productive partnership which has so far resulted in twelve books and a number of related projects.

Steve: As all good writers know: “You have to be willing to kill your babies.” David and I are. We also know that there will always be other stories that a special phrase or line of dialogue can fit into. As a pro—especially in television or screenwriting—the term “Nothing is written in stone” becomes a mantra.

Steve Hayes

What drew you to writing about Sherlock Holmes?

David: I’ve been a Holmes fan for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first pastiche, The Adventure of the Pentonville Twins, when I was just fifteen. But Sherlock Holmes didn’t really feature in our plans until Steve mentioned one day that he’d had an idea for a Sherlock Holmes story. Actually, at that point, Steve saw the project more as a western in which Holmes appeared. I saw it more as a Holmes story in which there were some western influences. We took it from there.

Steve is absolutely fearless, as anyone who knows him will tell you. But I myself approached the project with considerable trepidation. I certainly didn’t want us to produce a story that would in any way offend the Holmes purists. I wanted it to be as close to the style and spirit of Conan Doyle as possible, but not merely an imitation. If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to make these things seem contrived. I’ve read plenty of pastiches where the authors have tried too hard to capture Watson’s distinctive voice. Some of Holmes’s deductions in these books, which were of course so brilliantly described in the originals by Conan Doyle, often come across as somewhat laboured or deliberately manufactured. We didn’t want to fall into those same traps. We wanted Holmes’s solving of the mystery to seem entirely natural, the result of his great intellect, wide-ranging knowledge and ability to simply observe. As a result, I believe we ended up with a very good, very original story that will hopefully please Holmes fans of every stripe … plus those readers who simply enjoy a good Victorian mystery!

Steve: I’m not the fan of Holmes that David is. By that I mean I didn’t know that much about the character other than what I’d seen in movies. I’m old enough to have been in Hollywood in the Golden Era and I got to meet Basil Rathbone several times. He was Sherlock Holmes in my eyes. And has been ever since. Having David’s knowledge of Doyle’s Holmes and his background turned what I saw as a western for Brad Pitt (my agent got good feedback from his people, who said Brad was interested in playing Jesse James; which he did finally, although that particular movie tanked) eventually became a genuine Holmes’ story. Holmes’ fans can thank David for that.

With all the new stories, film and TV adaptations, how do you think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would react to the Sherlock Holmes phenomenon that his stories created?

David Whitehead

David: Well, we don’t really have to speculate, because the phenomenon began in Doyle’s own lifetime. As we know, he always considered Holmes to be a distraction from his true calling as a serious historical novelist, and he came to resent Holmes because of that. I don’t really think he ever fully understood just what the character meant to the public, and indeed, when he killed Holmes off, he did so “even if I buried my bank account with him.” And you can see why. It’s a bit like asking an artist to paint the same still life every day—after a while there’s just no challenge in it. Now, when Steve and I finished writing Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds, we went straight into a supernatural adventure called Cast a Deadly Shadow, which was about as far removed from Holmes as you could get.Steve: I think Doyle would be delighted. Variety is the spice of life, isn’t it?

What is your favourite Sherlock Holmes story, and why?

David: Definitely The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is just perfection on every level, though some of the Devonshire geography is a bit questionable! It has a wonderful legend, a cruel and cunning villain, a great location, some wonderful examples of Holmes’s deductive abilities, a fantastic cast of characters, more red herrings than a fishmonger’s stall and, perhaps most importantly, a wholly satisfying denouement. It truly is one of the great stories of all time, in my opinion. The only irony is that Holmes himself is largely absent for most of the book.

Steve: I don’t have one. But The Hound of the Baskervilles is as good as any.

What do you think are the key ingredients to making a great piece of crime fiction?

David: Originality. Pace. Credible characters caught up in relatively incredible events. Something that’s just a bit different.

Steve: I agree. But also the opening “hook” is vitally important. It’s important in any genre, but in mystery or crime fiction is it is vital if you want to keep the reader’s interest. That was hammered into me in every production meeting of every television show or movie I ever wrote. Hook the reader/viewer, give them fascinating characters, and keep up the pace and everyone goes home happy and satisfied. Even the poor lowly writer!

Sherlock Holmes and the Queen of Diamonds is out now in hardback