26
Sep
12

CBR4 #33: The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr

Have any of you been watching the BBC’s Sherlock? I just watched the first two episodes of series two and they were SO GOOD. The fact that Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t get an Emmy for his portrayal of Holmes was galling, and the fact that Martin Freeman wasn’t nominated for best supporting was equally annoying. The episode “Scandal in Belgravia” just gutted me. The chemistry between the leads is riveting. If you haven’t seen series one and two, you really should. (I haven’t watched S2E3 yet–it’s the Reichenbach Falls, and that’s bound to be a tough one. Particularly since it’s going to be FOREVER before series three finally arrives.)

Anyway, I told you that as a lead in to The Italian Secretary. This is a Sherlock Holmes novel, and as such it is not a bad addition to the genre. Holmes and Watson are called to Holyrood House in Scotland by Mycroft Holmes. They’re asked to look into several deadly incidents that have occurred at the house while Queen Victoria was in residence, as Mycroft is concerned about them being related to a planned attempt on the queen’s life. Folded in to the existing mystery is the historic mystery of the house–Queen Mary of Scots once lived in the house, and her favored musician David Rizzio was murdered within its walls in a plot by her husband. It’s said that the Italian music teacher’s spirit still haunts the house. Holmes and Watson investigate in their usual way, discovering additional mysteries along the way that all come together in a dramatic finale.

While this is nothing particularly amazing, it’s a solid Holmes book, and not bogged down by any blatant changes to the characters or their circumstances. Both are totally recognizable in their personalities and settings. The story isn’t bad, although I figured it out sooner than I would have preferred. There is quite a bit of debate about ghosts, and I’m not sure I really believed Holmes’s take on that subject, but then again, maybe that’s the point? On the whole, this is a decent, well-written, inoffensive mystery tale.

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