On My Wishlist #2


On My Wishlist is a fun weekly event hosted by Book Chick City and runs every Saturday. It’s where I list all the books I desperately want but haven’t actually bought yet. They can be old, new or forthcoming. If you want to know more click here.

So what’s on my wishlist this week?

Sherlock Holmes is back, and he’s being chased by two assassins. Surely I’m not serious.

I try very hard not to be serious too often, and Shirley is my mother.

Sherlock Holmes and the Swedish Enigma
Barry Grant
April 1, 2012
Severn House
Before the BBC brought us a 21st Sherlock Holmes in the form of Benedict Cumberbatch, Barry Grant tried a totally different approach in The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes. He postulated that Holmes fast-froze when he fell over Reichenbach Falls, only to be medically thawed in the 21st century, and brought back to rather astonished and astonishing life in the present day. Strange Return, and the second book in the series, Sherlock Holmes and the Shakespeare Letter, were actually quite good. The latest in the series, Sherlock Holmes and the Swedish Enigma, comes out in April. I’m curious to see if the author can keep this thing going.

I’ve just realized something. This Holmes has a Watson, of course. His name is James Wilson. Just like in the TV series House. And Gregory House is a modern-day Holmes, brilliance, irascibility, addictions and all. The homage is homaged.

The Outcast Blade
Jon Courtenay Grimwood
March 26, 2012
Little, Brown
Alternate History, Fantasy

Last year I read (and recommended) a brilliant sad, mysterious alternate history version of Venice with assassins, vampires, witches and werewolves controlling courtly politics and performing deadly deeds in the dark of night. Serenissima, the city of Venice, was every bit as much of a character in The Fallen Blade as any of the human or supernatural characters who walked her streets. The second act of The Assassini has finally appeared. I want to sink my teeth into The Outcast Blade and savor every page.

Broken Blade
Kelly McCullough
November 1, 2011
Dark Fantasy

Speaking of blades, I just read a terrific review of Kelly McCullough’s Broken Blade over at Flames Rising. I loved her WebMage series, but this is her first fantasy noir. Let me say again, I really loved her WebMage series, which mixes cyberpunk with urban fantasy with more than a touch of mythology. If any of that appeals, WebMage is the first book. But Broken Blade with its assassin-hero looks much more like dark fantasy or sword and sorcery. Both of which I like to begin with. And I like McCullough’s style. Sounds like a winning combination to me.


Vampires and Venice?

Friends ask me to tell them something good to read.  Sometimes I do it whether they ask or not.  They’re still my friends, so they must not mind.

Fallen Blade CoverTwo books I just recommended were The Fallen Blade, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, and Of Saints and Shadows by Christopher Golden.  At first, they seemed not much alike.  Blade is historic, set in an alternate Venice of 1407, at the height of the power of La Serenissima, as the floating city-state is frequently referred to.  At first, it seems difficult to discern who the main character might be, whether it is the head of the Assassini, the Guild of Assassins, or Lady Giulietta, the cousin of the current Duke, or perhaps the slave who is given the name Tycho when he is rescued from the hold of a ship without his memory or his identity.

But Tycho is a vampire, even if he doesn’t remember his people, his powers or his original purpose.  And Venice is not the Venice we know.  It contains not just the Assassini (historically, Venice undoubtedly did have plenty assassins, whether they had a formal guild or not) but also witches, and especially, werewolves.

The Fallen Blade is the labelled Act One of the Assassini Trilogy.  This is a dark and dangerous alternate world, grim and brutal.  For a book that is first in a trilogy, it ended on a surprisingly down beat.

Saints and Shadows coverOf Saints and Shadows shouldn’t have had too many points of comparison with Blade.  Really.  But it did.  Saints is, after all, urban fantasy, more or less.  It starts out as a private detective type-mystery, except that the PI in question is a vampire.  Peter Octavian is not his real name, either, but at least Octavian remembers who he is, and who he was.  But he is still searching for his identity, too, in a sense.  His search is that he is aware that what he has been told are limits to his powers, are not, in fact, necessarily limits.  He is forced to find the evil behind those limits.

Saints is the first book in a series.  The series was originally started in the mid-1990’s, but has been re-printed in its entirety this year and a new title has just come out.  The dark and gritty feel of Saints matched right up to Blade.  Again, for the first book in a series, it ended on a fairly grim note.  Also, although it started in New York, most of the real action, including the big finish, took place during Carnival at, you guessed it, Venice.

Next time I send him a recommendation, it needs to be a little cheerier, or he’s going to worry.