Bookbag review for The Norwood Author

The book review website The Bookbag has reviewed my latest book ahead of its release. You can read the review (in which it is awarded 4 stars) at the following link:

The Case Notes of Sherlock Holmes - A review

I bought this book last Saturday and I am now starting to ask myself why. I am also trying to answer the question what market is this aimed at?

The "book" is put together in such a way that it reminds you of those magazines that, over time, 'built into a wonderful collection...' For your money you get "notes" on some selected stories and some items that are made out to be replicas of 'Vital Evidence' from Holmes's cases. Examples include a copy of The Baskerville Legend, a picture of Irene Adler and a copy of one of Watson's letters to Holmes.

The cover (as can be seen in the above picture) suggests that it covers Holmes's six 'greatest' adventures. This is patently an absurd statement. One of the cases featured is 'The Dancing Men' which cannot, by any measure, be referred to as one of Holmes's greatest since it included the death of his client. The inclusion of cases such as 'The Final Problem' and 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' have more merit.

I am forced to conclude that the choice of cases had more to do with what replica 'evidence' could be included in the package. Suggesting that the aformentioned 'Dancing Men' was one of Holmes's greatest cases allowed the 'author' to include replicas of the stick man messages.  We also get a footprint map from 'The Boscombe Valley Mystery' that shows us how Holmes identified who did what from the various footprints at the scene. This, in my opinion, is not one of Holmes's greatest adventures either.

I now come back to my earlier question. Who is this marketed at? The answer can only be that it is marketed at those people who know very little about Holmes and are seeking an easily accessible way into his world. It is certainly not aimed at an expert or indeed anyone with a semi-decent understanding of the subject.

As a final note. The 'evidence' items are well produced and the whole package is handsomely put together. However you should not let the nice packaging distract you from the fact that you are most definitely not getting details on Holmes's six 'greatest' cases and you will learn nothing from this that you could not learn by buying the stories and reading them for yourself. Doing so, incidentally, is something you could do for less money than it costs to buy this item.


I'm not quite sure what the problem is with Amazon.Com. For some reason they started to list my latest book as being shippable in 4-6 weeks and now they list it as temporarily out of stock.

Of course it is out of stock. It's not been released yet.

I wander the foggy streets of old London Town

My fictional debut is now nine chapters long and about 18,000 words. I have it printed out right now and am going through it with a pen. I've not had to scribble on it too much but I am only three chapters in on my read through.

The positive feedback continues

I have now had positive feedback on 'The Norwood Author' from two further reviewers. One of them said it was the best book I've written.

Keep the good vibes coming people and I might write some more.

For those who loathe the new SH film

I have seen a number of borderline vitriolic attacks on the new SH film in forums and mailing lists. I'm not a great fan of it either but I thought I would reproduce my response to one such complainer.
To: ??????

We all need to face facts here. This film was never going to be made for us (Sherlockians). Like any other film it was made to make money. To do that it had to play with the modern low-brow obsession with sex and violence.

It is for this reason, I think, that the best adaptations of detective stories are made on the small screen where the commercial forces and viewer perception are different. In the UK you only have to look at Granada's Sherlock Holmes or Poirot to see how it can be done well.

I cannot speak for the US but in the UK we have the licence fee. Consequently the BBC has a guaranteed income. As it is the law to pay it the BBC can take risks and not worry that an adverse reaction will affect revenues. Even on the commercial channels risks can still be taken as funding comes from advertising rather than individuals. We are more likely to commit to watch something if we feel like we haven't dug directly into our pockets to pay for it. Therefore through television we watch things that we would never pay to see at the cinema.

I think we need to face the fact that the big screen will never deliver a faithful Holmes.

Most recent updates

Review copies of my latest book The Norwood Author are slowly finding their way into the hands of interested parties. Roger Johnson of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London described it as, amongst others things, a 'Tour-de-force'. John Hickman, a Norwood based historian, finished his copy in one sitting - such was his interest - and described it as 'really very good'.

Now, to top it all, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London, in co-operation with MX Publishing, is promoting all three of my books with a special discount code for society members. You can see the relevant article on their website at:


Any SHSL Members out there?

If by some vague chance you like my books and are a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London - you may be interested to know that I intend to attend the SHSL event on March 12th in commemoration of the Battle of Maiwand.

See the SHSL events page to keep abreast of details.

I may see some of you there.

Eliminate the Impossible - 2nd Edition

Not for the first time, the suggestion has been made that there ought to be a second edition of my first work - Eliminate the Impossible. This latest suggestion is to be found within a review recently posted at

I have to say that, for the time being at least, this is not likely to happen. There are several reasons for this. First and foremost is my feeling that there has not been enough activity on the film and television front to justify adding anything to the screen section of the book. Yes we've had the Guy Ritchie film and we do have the modernised version from the BBC breathing down our necks but these are not enough to justify a second edition.

I also do not feel that I can add much to my analysis of the stories which makes up the first two-thirds of the book. Comment has been made about how I mostly bring together the opinions of others rather than voicing my own but this what I intended to do. I have voiced my own opinion where I felt I could add another perspective but it was not always the case that I felt able to do so.

Even if I were to add some additional comments of my own and bring in the opinions of even more scholars I doubt it would all be enough to justify asking people to put their hands in their pockets for another edition.

The final nail in this particular coffin is that I intend to devote myself to my own attempts at Victorian detective fiction. More details on this as the project advances.

Books, books, books

I received 20 copies of my latest on Friday which I had ordered for family and friends. I have signed and dedicated the majority of them now but I am hesitating over posting them out.


Simple, we're now in the new year but our beloved Royal Mail (or, more to the point, the CWU) have not let us know when their campaign of annoying their dwindling customer base is to continue.

Give us all an update please.

One winner remains

I'm still waiting for contact from one of my promotion winners. Please see my previous posting for details.

Book promotion winners

Some time ago I announced a promotion for my latest book The Norwood Author. This has now closed but I need to track down two winners in order to discuss prices and delivery etc.

If the users Jonathan and johnhwatson would email the address below (with details of the question they were asked and the answer they gave) we can discuss payment and delivery.

Many thanks.


SHSL Annual Dinner

The Annual Dinner of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London takes places this Saturday (9th) at the House of Commons. Naturally I am hoping that the current snowy conditions do not cause any problems as the event is not exactly a cheap one.

This will be my first Annual Dinner since becoming a member in 2007 so that makes it extra special for me. The guest speaker this year is Ruth Rendell (of Inspector Wexford  fame). I very much hope to get to talk to her at some point during the evening but I doubt that will happen.

If I get any photos on the day I will be sure to post them.

Happy Birthday Mr Holmes

January 6th 1854 is generally held to be the birthday of Sherlock Holmes.

So many happy returns Mr Holmes.

Special Book Offer

My publisher has decided to make a bundle offer of all three of my books.

If you buy direct from MX's website and enter the promo code 'duncan' (minus the quotes I imagine) at checkout you will get £10 off the RRP of £29.97.