Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Black Hand

One of the highlights of my brief participation in this year's Bouchercon was the fact that I snagged a copy of THE BLACK HAND by WIll Thomas. Thomas is one of my favorite authors in the mystery field. His series is set in late Victorian England and has a brilliant lead detective with an assistant who actually tells the stories. Think you've heard this one before? Think this is some reheated Sherlock Holmes? You couldn't be further from the truth - not even if the truth promised to stand stock still and you got into a spaceship traveling 25,000 miles per hour on an unlimited fuel supply and you went full throttle for the rest of your life (may you be blessed with long life).

The difference between Cyrus Barker and Sherlock Holmes is like the difference between Daniel Craig's James Bond and Sean Connery's. I've never been able to watch a Sean Connery James Bond movie (though I like him enough in other projects). He always seemed more than a little ridiculous and not at all dangerous... unless you're a woman. With Holmes, while I like the tales enough, Holmes isn't much of a person to me. Watson even less so.

On the other hand, Will Thomas's characters jump to life. Barker is a bit of a superhero, but not so much that he would need a cape. In this installment, he takes on the Mafia, a secret Italian criminal society just then getting a foothold in London. Of course, the mission gets accomplished, but unlike a Holmes story, one guy gets stabbed in the face and another has his knees broken for him.

Another great read in the series.


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