The Keys of Death – Another Virtuoso Performance by Gretchen Altabef

A review by Harry DeMaio

The Sherlockian world is currently awash with pastiches, analyses, essays, histories, psychological studies and assorted other literary efforts. I have made a few contributions to this torrent myself. Periodically, a volume emerges that is truly different in design and execution. Gretchen Altabef’s The Keys of Death is such a book.  

She has skillfully combined an excellent mystery narrative with a well-done series of character studies of a youthful Holmes, Watson and (surprise) Mrs. Hudson along with reflections on the Anglo-Jewish community in London at the turn of the 1900’s. Gretchen is known for her feisty heroines and her Marti Hudson, Amelia Dreyfus and Lily Langtry are no exceptions. For good measure she has included advice and council on the planning, construction and harvesting of vegetable and flower gardens. Truly a wide ranging mixture that will hold your interest.

There is skillful authorship, technique, imagination and research at work here. The result is a worthy read. Brava, Gretchen, Brava!

Harry DeMaio is the author of the Casebooks of Octavius Bear and Sherlock Holmes and Solar Pons Stories.

Gretchen Altabef is an MX author of Sherlock Holmes novels. Mondadori Publishing has contracted to translate her novels into Italian. Ms. Altabef strives to emulate Dr. John Watson’s and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary style. The first, These Scattered Houses, is in Holmes’ own voice and resourcefully chronicles the last two months of his ‘great hiatus’. The second in the series is, Remarkable Power of Stimulus. After 3 years away, Holmes finds London awash in murders, No. 221B under siege, anarchists threatening Paris, and the return of Irene Adler. Fully aware he is being watched by Moriarty’s men, 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 a genesis story of the world’s most famous address, No. 221B Baker Street.

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