Review of the Week

clockwork scarabGleason, Colleen. The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker and Holmes Novel. Fiction.  Stoker and Holmes Series. Chronicle, 2013. 350p. $17.99.  978-1-4521-1070-7. OUTSTANDING.  GRADES 7-12.

In what appears to be the first of a series, Gleason pairs Evaline Stoker (a vampire hunter, and sister to Bram Stoker) with Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock, and daughter of Mycroft) in a steampunk mystery set in London in 1889. Irene Adler, who is working at the British Museum in the Egyptian Artifacts department, recruits them to serve the Crown by looking into the disappearances of several young women. Evaline and Mina, with the assistance of a charming pickpocket and an unintentional time traveler, must stop the perpetrator. The story is well done with steampunk elements such as steam pistols, steamcycles (similar to motorcycles but able to fly) and night-illuminators woven into the Old London setting. Unfortunately, the editor missed an error on page 242: When a young woman is found dead, Inspector Grayling says, “Next to her bed was a small vial, uncapped, and empty. I smelled the essence of bitter almond.” Miss Holmes correctly responds with “Cyanide.” Yet two paragraphs later, the Inspector says “Yes. I suspect it was arsenic. There was enough residue left in the vial to test it, so we shall know in short order.” The smell of bitter almonds is indivisibly linked with cyanide, while arsenic burns the digestive system. That being said, the tale was gripping, and this reviewer looks forward to further books in the series.

Kathy L. Haug, Retired

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One Response to Review of the Week

  1. Ruth I. Gordon says:

    Kathy is our very own Agatha Christie–an expert in poisons. Did anyone see the program on the N.Y.C medical examiner who really invented forensic detection–poisons.–Big Grandma

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