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Subjects & categories

On the Road Again…

I am seriously thinking of a mini book tour in the UK (and possibly some Northern European countries) some time in early August. If anyone reading this would like a Sherlockian signing/speaking event, and can suggest a bookstore, group, or venue, please get in contact with me.

And if this works, I am also thinking of going to the US (probably West Coast) next year and repeating the process. Any interest?

A ferret in a deerstalker

Andy Boerger and I did a book event at the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club, aided and abetted by Vinnie Ferret-Boerger (pictured above). A small but select audience, and we sold about a dozen copies of Sherlock Ferret and the Missing Necklace. I read some of the book and talked about Sherlock Ferret and Sherlock Holmes, Andy chatted about ferrets, and Vinnie went to sleep in my deerstalker hat after being made a great fuss of by everyone.

We also previewed Sherlock Ferret and the Multiplying Masterpieces – coming soon!

David Hunter Ashton – 1930-2014

Hugh Ashton and Christine Startin would like their friends to know that their dear father died in the early hours of March 2nd, after a long illness, borne with characteristic patience.

A service of thanksgiving for his life will be held in Stafford, UK, at a date to be announced.

We are so very grateful to all the friends, carers and those who have made a difficult time so much easier.

“With Christ, which is far better” Phil 1:23

Famous Ferrets – 6 to be won!

Andy and I are interviewed on a site dedicated to small animals. SmallAnimalChannel.com saw Sherlock Ferret and the Missing Necklace and decided it would make a great story for their site.

So, here you are!

Andy and I talk about ferrets, drawing pictures, nefarious villains, carrot salad, and The World’s Cutest Detective!

And there are six signed copies of the book to be won!


The Kite Runner – a review

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

5 stars for plot, 4 for execution – 4.5 stars, really. Yes, this is a good book – even a very good book.

It certainly tugs at your heartstrings every way, from the sentimentally loving description of upper-class life in Kabul, to the pain of self-realisation of oneself as a moral failure, to the heartbreak of loss of a respected and admired (if not loved) parent, the joy of happy love and marriage, and a roller-coaster of emotions at the end of the book.

My quibbles are relatively minor. The narrator is an author, but the profession never really shows itself, other than through the fact that he can take an extended trip back home. The other thing that irked me was the semaphoring in a couple of places of what was going to happen next; a sort of “just watch what happens now” approach, which annoys me in books (and movies).

But… an informative and moving story which carries you along with it and keeps you turning pages late into the night. I wonder if I would have found it so interesting had it not had the “travelogue” feel to it, and if it had been set in somewhere more prosaic. But then, a lot of the story wouldn’t have happened in that way.

One point that struck me was the youth of the Taliban described here. It seems to me that there is a Puritan streak in a certain section of humanity, or at least a violent streak that expresses itself as youth-led (or at least violently enforced by a group of younger men) Puritanism, whether it be the Taliban, the 1920s German Freikorps and SA, the Chinese Red Guards, and so on.

View all my reviews

A fortunate pose

My pose for this photo wasn’t deliberately chosen, but I think it works quite well with this one of ACD on a publicity leaflet I’ve made up, pimping me as a speaker on Sherlock Holmes and associated subjects.

PS If you would like me to speak at your club, school, event, whatever, I enjoy standing on my hind legs and ranting, and I think I’m quite good at it. Just ask me.


An illustrated Sherlock book…

Now it can be told. Andy Boerger (he of Sherlock Ferret fame), has kindly agreed to provide an illustration for each of the five adventures in the forthcoming collection of Sherlock Holmes adventures Without my Boswell. We’re working together on the subject matter, but the style is Andy’s own, of course – it’s not Sidney Paget, naturally, but it captures the spirit of the adventures perfectly.

And what do the pictures look like? Well, I can’t tell you as yet. You’re going to have to wait until the beginning of next month (February) to see them.

Here are the adventures:

“Yes, my boy, these were all done prematurely before my biographer had come to glorify me.” He lifted bundle after bundle in a tender, caressing sort of way. “ They are not all successes, Watson,” said he. “ But there are some pretty little problems among them. Here’s the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club-foot, and his abominable wife.” (from “The Musgrave Ritual”)

“ I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money…” (from The Sign of Four)

In the meantime, here is the provisional (revised) cover: