|A Study in Crimson by Molly Carr|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: A spoof take on the duo Holmes and Watson (they're the ahem ... supporting cast here apparently). Carr turns the situations and characters upside down and creates two female crime investigators doing their own thing in their own way.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 332||Date: November 2010|
|Publisher: MX Publishing|
As soon as I read the blurb on the back cover I thought there's no doubting that this book is going to be one of those delightful romps, shall we say. Carr takes the famous and much-loved and much-read detective Holmes along with his trusty, if rather dull and plodding side-kick Watson and decides to have a bit of fun. But will it work?
The front cover is promising. It's bright red (as befits the title) and with a silhouette of Holmes so that the reader is in no mistake as to the general contents/genre/time period. We meet the co-founders of a new Detective Agency run by the wife of Watson and her good friend and now colleague, Mrs St Clair. They've already enjoyed some success with the agency and are keen to continue and hopefully build upon it. And although we are in the era where women most definitely did not wear the trousers (up there with swearing in public and adultery probably) one of the female duo actually does wear trousers now and again - but it's all in the line of duty.
The book opens at a break-neck pace. The two women seen to have lots to say, well, about everything really. They chatter on with fondness (as if talking about young children) about previous crimes but the bank balance needs topping up. No time to sit back and gloat.
So we start off in America. Mrs Watson doesn't as much converse with her husband, no, she actually instructs him that she'll be travelling to America shortly. And the fact that they have a young child (always referred to as the Little Nipper, which was lovely) is neither here nor there. What are servants for anyway? And the book is very much in the tongue-in-cheek style, if a bit rushed for the most part. All good, clean fun as they say. If a bit silly.
Carr does have some witty lines here and there, but the whole narrative is really at full-pelt. The two main characters are forever rushing around and covering vast parts of the globe (Germany, Afghanistan ... Norfolk) at a cracking pace. It's not really a style which I particularly like, even as a 'light' read. But then, we're all different in our reading likes and dislikes, aren't we?
The two women breathlessly harp on about previous people in previous situations which tended to make much of the storyline a bit choppy and dis-jointed. It's like a big stew-pot where everything's thrown in, in the hope that it will turn out tasty. On a positive note, in the part where the duo are in New York, there's some nice references to the period. Ellis Island ... wasn't in use yet for example.
To be honest, I was only luke-warm (if that) about three-quarters of the book with the final quarter, in my opinion, being the best and most interesting. And studded throughout, as you might expect, are references to Holmes and Watson as well as Poirot (as a very young man) and Marple. All a bit forced in feel, to my mind, as if Carr is too eager to please.
The book's overall presentation could have been better. The line spacing throughout was very gappy and punctuation, grammar and the odd spelling mistake didn't help. All of this gave the book a rather amateurish feel, I'm afraid. But, if you light your crime reading light - very light, then this book may very well do the job.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then you might like to try The Worms of Euston Square by William Sutton.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Study in Crimson by Molly Carr at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Study in Crimson by Molly Carr at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.