Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Kindle Version of Irregular Lives is Here!

Finally . . . Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars has been released ON KINDLE!  The rush to the Christmas season had delayed the publication of my new novel as an e-book. But, it finally arrived!

So, if you are an e-book reader, go HERE!
to get your copy.

I see that five of you have purchased my book -- thank you, and several have posted reviews -- again, much appreciated.

PLEASE remember to review this book, and send any detailed feedback to me personally. Remember, you don’t need to provide a long review. It’s the number of stars that count in Amazon’s algorithm. Even if you cannot buy now, you can do a review it and read it later (bizarre as that seems, it’s the way things work on Amazon).

The audiobook will be out in a couple months, and I’ll let you know when it “hits the stands.” I have a new narrator, Dominic Lopez, who just signed the contract and will begin production next week.

Thanks for your patronage and support!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Irregular Lives -- Then and Now

My next novel -- Irregular Lives -- is set in the last century, it is most appropriate for our time given that the 1% are in control of my country.

Like many writer’s, I construct my stories around a central focus, or theme, that is artfully woven (hopefully) into the main story.  In Sherlock Holmes - The Golden Years, the theme was eugenics, is all its various forms.  Irregular Lives: The Untold Storyof Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street Irregulars has a another contemporary theme -- the growing economic gap between the rich and poor.

My novel is set in post-WWI London that, at that time, had a metro area population of almost 7 million.  In 1919, almost 30 % of the London’s inhabitants were poor and destitute. In one scene, Wiggins takes Holmes to his home in Spitalfields where Holmes’s eyes are opened, really for the first time, to the horrid neighborhood his soon to be gang of irregulars call home:

Sherlock Holmes was familiar with the dingier places in London, but his previous encounters had been in the context of a chase. His eyes and attention had been on the villains and clues. In this way, his mind had forged a correlation between the slums and criminals. It was black and white, like Charles Booth’s poverty map of London, where Spitalfields appeared as a blacked series of city blocks on London’s east side. That map had no shades of grey, no color, no faces or names. Holmes remembered filing this map away in his archives, along with the knowledge that one-third of Londoners lived in desperate need and squalor. It was but another scrap of information, like the number of cabs in London—4,142 currently.
But now, he stood in the middle of one of those blackened city blocks. There was a metamorphosis: information had transformed into flesh and blood. He needed to consider this. He would—but not now, and not here. He would walk out of this “blackened block” to his spotless rooms. However, he would never again be able to leave behind the people of Spitalfields.

As an interesting side-note, London’s population has grown to 8.6 million people, but almost the same percentage of the inhabitants, about 27%, live in poverty. Not a lot of progress there, or elsewhere in the world, in the last century. 17% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, and nearly half -- 3 billion people -- are considered poor by the World Bank -- defined as making less than $2.50 per day.

Although I am active in my community, more and more I feel as though I am not doing enough for my fellow man. I rationalize that my reader’s will be able to draw parallels between my stories and the current reality in their community. Maybe they’ll be stirred to reach out and help others. In Irregular Lives, Holmes and Watson have a conversation about how the well to do tend to reach out in their community:

“Holmes, who is the fellow to be examined, and on whose behalf are we conducting this examination?”
“It’s on behalf of Wiggins’ mate, a youth called Snape.”
“Is he that rather stout lad who waddles about?”
“No, that is Rumpty. Snape is the ham-fisted youth—fifteen stone, or so, of solid muscle.”
“Rumpty, Dumpty, Snape,” Watson muttered. “These names mean nothing to me. Why do you meddle in their affairs? Noblesse oblige, I suppose.”
“I should not use that expression,” Holmes shot back. “It carries a dreadful stigma. Those who use it seldom see their societal obligations extending beyond their pocketbooks. They offer the less fortunate a hand, while keeping a foot on their neck.”

While this blog post borders on preaching, I can promise you that if you read Irregular Lives, you will not be subjecting yourself to a sermon, or morale tirade. I believe I have written a darn good tale. I only wished to give you a peek at one of the elements contained in my new novel. For, in the end, reading should be a joyous experience. Check it out on Amazon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Holmes Adventures HERE NOW!

Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars is now AVAILABLE!

This new book as been described as a “multi-layered mystorical novel” —a way of saying that, within the larger thriller plot, there are five short stories set within a historically accurate post-WWI setting in the U.K.

As the title promises, the novel centers on a gang of adolescent boys and girls whom Holmes recruited from the slums of London to become his investigative allies. Doyle only referenced three or four cases where he engaged the irregulars, but there were many others.

Wiggins you know, if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan. But, until now, other members of Wiggins’ backstreet brigade were never mentioned by name. Now you can meet them: Ugly, Snape, Kate, Ruck, Rumpty, Archie, Benjie and little Tessa.

Some of Sherlock Holmes’s most bizarre cases involved the irregulars: a hideous execution of a man who had been strapped to the barrel of cannon, a fiend who hoped he could live forever on the blood of others, and the largest jewel robbery in Britain.

Irregular Lives shines light on a hidden side of an older and more compassionate Sherlock Holmes, and illuminates “darkest England” —the abysmal backstreets, slums, and tenements of Victorian London that the irregulars called home.

The tale begins with a cryptic invitation and note:

Photographer S.P. Fields
 invites you to the debut of THE collection:
Irregular Lives.

Saturday, March 15, 1919.
35, Russell Square, London.

A note was enclosed in the envelope:
The lives of the well-off have an arc, with significant achievements posed near the peak. The lives of the deprived hover barely off the ground. Their accomplishment lies at the bitter end—the fact that they survived at all.
Please help me honour and eulogize those that served us both so well.
— S. P. F.

A wave of recollections—of people, places, faces and voices from the past, swept over Holmes’s mind like a tidal wave: his many encounters with the band of juveniles that bore his appellation “the Baker-street irregulars.”

If you are curious about how Holmes shaped and changed the irregulars, and how they changed his life . . . this is the book for you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Holmes’s Irregulars were very irregular!

Within the 60 Holmes stories in the original canon, the urban army known at the Baker Street irregulars appear only three times: In two novels and in The Adventure of the Crooked Man. In these stories the irregulars are led by Wiggins. It is clear that there were many boys within the irregulars, and at least one girl, but none of the others were distinguished in Doyle's writing. As an emerging Holmes scholar, it seemed likely to me that the irregulars played a larger role in Holmes's investigations and his life— particularly when he and Watson did not share a flat at 221B Baker Street.

Omnimystery News (a great mystery lover’s website) has just published an article of mine about the irregulars— which are the focus of my new novel: Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars that comes out on November 16.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NEW BOOK PREVIEW: Introducing Benjie

As the newest Sherlock Holmes novel continues to work its way though the publishing process toward its debut November 16. I am posting previews from the book -- introducing you to some of the irregulars featured in the Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars.

Irregular Lives tells the true story of Holmes’s relationship with the band of street-urchins who became is allies over two decades.  Benjie was among the youngest of the irregulars. He was the younger brother of Archie -- the lad who eventually took over leadership of the gang after Wiggins left.

This week, I’ll preview Benjie, an irregulars Doyle never mentioned by name. So, let me introduce you with a scene from the story:

BENJIE WAS MESMERIZED by the silver florin spinning in the gentleman’s fingers.
“My boy, this is yours for a few minutes’ work.”
“What d’you want?”
“A small thing really, Benjie. I’m . . . a doctor of sorts. I need a tiny vial of your blood for a patient.”
Benjie’s body recoiled.
“Just a thimbleful, is all.”
Benjie nodded, hesitantly. “For two bob, then.”
“Good boy. Let’s tell the dustman outside that he need not wait for you, shall we?”
The angular man put his arm around the ten-year-old boy’s shoulder and led him out to the street where Tux, a flying dustman, was waiting to collect the ash, rubbish and débris.
“What’s this then?” Tux asked, as Benjie approached, empty handed, toward the waiting horse and cart.
The doctor held out a shilling. “I have a small task for the lad. I’m sure you can do without him for the rest of the day.” He pressed the coin into Tux’s palm.
The ageing dustman looked askance at Benjie, who nodded.
“Very good, guv’ner,” Tux agreed. “You can find your way home, can’t you, Benjie?”
“Yes, Tux.”
The dirty refuse-collector shrugged his shoulders and, grumbling under his breath, grabbed the reins of his nag and urged it onward.
Benjie was led back into the doctor’s elegant home, and soon found himself lying on his back atop a narrow padded table.
“I’m going to prick your arm with a needle. Hold it still and steady. Close your eyes.”
Benjie shut his eyes; but they suddenly flew open when the doctor’s hand clamped his arm against the tabletop.
“Ow!” Benjie yelped, as the needle struck his vein.
“Quiet. This will only take a moment.”
The sting in Benjie’s arm lessened, and his body relaxed.
“There,” said the Doctor.
As the needle was pulled out, Benjie watched a bead of blood cut a scarlet track down his forearm.

I hope that you will continue to follow this blog as the countdown continues to November 16 -- when Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars hits the bookstores.

For while these sneak previews may be fun, they are not a substitute for reading (or listening to) the entire adventure. You can PRE-ORDER NOW on Amazon!