“. . . she eschews the formulas that so often appear in Holmes pastiches and sets about creating a new format; a new locale; new characters; a new story line and most important, a new Holmes.”
Let us establish one fact immediately. Gretchen Altabef is a remarkably talented author. In These Scattered Houses, the first book in her Sherlock Holmes trilogy, she eschews the formulas that so often appear in Holmes pastiches and sets about creating a new format; a new locale; new characters; a new story line and most important, a new Holmes.
Seldom used in other books, Holmes is his own narrator in a tale that takes place during his three year post Reichenbach hiatus in the town of Poughkeepsie New York and the campus of Vassar College. I have earned my living for several years in that city and can attest that she has captured its Mid-Hudson character exactly. The story centers around the horrors of a state asylum for the insane and involves an extensive Italian family; college denizens; women suffragists; a precocious young girl; mad house denizens and a cast of evil doers.
Holmes in his role as Sigerson is not the traditional Sherlockian prototype at all but I will not spoil the story by elucidating further. The action moves along at a rapid pace. The characters alone make it very interesting and unusual. In short, this is a very worthwhile read. Enjoy it!
“Gretchen Altabef is, beyond doubt, one of the most preeminent writers of Sherlock Holmes pastiches.”
The Keys of Death Releases Dec. 13, 2021
In The Keys of Death, her dedication to research delivers a credible and compelling look at the world of a young Sherlock Holmes. Her impeccable characterizations, particularly of Mrs. Hudson (whom I also envision as a younger, vital woman) and supporting characters are richly drawn. The story itself builds to a stunning crescendo.
And the charming and edifying Victorian gardening journal appealed greatly to this “perennial optimist”. Ms. Altabef deserves high praise indeed for The Keys of Death as well as her previous two novels. Hopefully work on number four is currently underway!
Review by Wendy Heyman-Marsaw, author of Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen.
Above photograph is of a 19th-Century doctor’s Phrenology case.
I am an MX author of new Sherlock Holmes novels. My writing springs from the same sense of justice as Dr. Watson’s, and Dr. Doyle’s. My books brim with imagination and a news reporter’s excitement for the true history of the day. THESE SCATTERED HOUSES is a breakthrough novel for Holmes and for me. Mondadori Publishing has translated it into Italian. The sequel, Sherlock Holmes: REMARKABLE POWER OF STIMULUS is a Sherlock Holmes novel with heart. Returning from three years away, Holmes steps out of the cab into Baker Street knowing he will find Watson’s friendship and unerring aim are as dependable as the British Rail. THE KEYS OF DEATH is the genesis of that friendship.
Two short stories published this year: “In The Land of the Living” Mystery Magazine, October 2021. “Sir Arthur and the Time Machine” SHERLOCK HOLMES FURTHER ADVENTURES IN THE REALMS OF H. G. WELLS, a Belanger Anthology. I contributed Arthur Conan Doyle’s, and Sherlock Holmes’ history, and edited JEREMY BRETT – PLAYING A PART and JEREMY BRETT IS SHERLOCK HOLMES by Maureen Whittaker.
A member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, The John H. Watson Society, the Priory Scholars of New York, the ACD Society, the Sherlock Holmes Society of India, and the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers assemblage artist collective.
“In The Land of the Living” Short Story
Contributor & an Editor