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Archive for March, 2012

The Arthur Conan Doyle Estate authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel, and Anthony Horowitz was chosen to write it.  I believe that I have only read The Hound of the Baskervilles, so I do not have much Conan Doyle experience to compare Horowitz to, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The House of Silk is written from the perspective of an old Dr. Watson, as he looks back and reminisces on this case.  Sherlock Holmes works the case of an apparent mobster from Boston that travelled to London to exact revenge on an art dealer.  In the midst of this investigation, Sherlock Holmes becomes framed for the murder of a poor girl outside of an opium den that eventually leads to the question of what is The House of Silk?  The ending has an extremely surprising twist, which was is why I was left with a positive remembrance of this Sherlock Holmes novel.

It took me a while to get into this book and to actually get to the point where I did not want to put it down.  The first 1/3 of it read pretty slowly and lazily and I started and stopped frequently.  Once the story got going though, it became much more engrossing and it was easy to picture Sherlock Holmes at work at his best detective theories.

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I wanted to read a book that provided some good history about the American Civil War because I don’t remember anything that I learned about it back in junior high.  In my search for books, This Republic of Suffering (A National Book Award Finalist) came up and seemed like a good start.  While the book is exceptionally researched and very well written, it is not exactly what I was looking for. 

This Republic of Suffering focuses on the impact of approximately 500,000 deaths on the country at that time.  There are many interesting topics in the book, such as how they dealt with burials, counting the dead, and identifying the dead.  Many topics, though, felt a bit over-written.  Much is written of the “Good Death” in the Dying chapter, and yet the Good Death is again revisited in the Realizing (mourning) chapter to describe how mourners consoled themselves with descriptions of the Good Death, or how descriptions of the Good Death were used in funeral services.  As I was reading, I did not think it possible to write more about mourning, but then I turned the page and found that the mourning chapter continued.  Many of the chapters felt a bit endless with additional examples supporting the author’s point. 

The book is good for information about major battles, and the feelings of both soldiers and civilians at the time of the war.  If you are looking for information about how the war started, the path of the war, and the end of the war, however, this book is not the answer.

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