Come At Once If Convenient

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy
Narrelle M. Harris
Improbable Press
March 2016


colonial-boy-v-smlThe Adventure of the Colonial Boy by Narrelle M. Harris is a Sherlockian novel steeped in a strong brew of Victoriana—in the sense of both the era and the state. And to see our much beloved characters running about in places so familiar and dear is an utter delight.

These are my places, you see. The places my almost daily perambulations take me—down Collins, past Parliament, up to Eastern Hill, around the old terraces near St. Vincent’s, the road up to Kyneton.* Is this what it feels like when a New Yorker watches all those movies set in New York? Or are they so inured to them that it seems the natural way of things? Perhaps I should just read more books by Melbourne authors set in Melbourne. Seems a legit fix.

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy is one of the latest from Improbable Press—a press dedicated to the more romantic interpretations of the Holmes and Watson relationship.

For those who know, you know this facet of the relationship has been discussed, studied, elaborated upon for almost as long as the original stories themselves have been around. For those of you wondering what on earth the world has come to, I’m afraid I’ve got some news for you. Here, let me make you a cup of tea. You wrap this shock blanket around your shoulders, have a bit of a sit down—we need to talk. But first, let me tell everyone else about this lovely book.

We enter into our heroes’ world two years after Holmes’s apparent destruction along with his great nemesis, Moriarty, at the falls of the Reichenbach. Holmes’s ever faithful companion Doctor Watson, still mourning the greatest loss of his life, now mourns the recent death of his wife, Mary.

After a strange day of near-misses, Watson receives a message that sparks near equal amounts of hope and anger and suspicion—“Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same—S.H.”. He follows the familiar summons, making his way to the antipodean post-gold rush city of Melbourne.

There, both Watson’s anger and hope are vindicated when he finds Holmes alive and well. Well, alive anyway. From here they must overcome their recriminations and (please allow me this wonderful cliché) find their way back to each other, emotionally. All the while they pursue and are pursued by the remaining dregs of Moriarty’s web.

Holmes’s two year endeavor to eliminate this intricate syndicate of criminals has led to Australia and the pursuit of Sebastian Moran. For Dr. Watson, memories of his younger days spent in the Victorian gold fields with his brother and father are brought back, as well as the memory of the scandal from which he has been running ever since.

Narrelle M. Harris evokes a tangible sense of colonial Australia with an intricate and at times wonderfully gruesome mystery worthy of Doyle’s best. The Victorian is strong with this one and the romantic relationship between Holmes and Watson is handled with the deftest of delicate touches. Their years of miscommunication are finally confessed and resolved—or are they? Spoilers sweetie. This book was promptly added to my growing list of blanket books. Cozy-fireplace-hot tea-rain patter-blanket books that just make you want to curl up and keep reading.


*Well, obviously I don’t walk up that one daily. Or maybe that’s not so obvious to everyone. I do not walk daily to Kyneton. I’d need a lot more porridge in the morning.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

Stefan Spjut, translated by Susan Beard
Faber/Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99
July 2015

Imagine, if you will, a scene: a crowd of sports fans shocked into silence. A bobsled overturned oh-so-close to the end of the track. Four plucky Jamaicans crawl unharmed out of their upended bobsled, their hopes and dreams for Olympic glory shattered. But what’s this? They’re picking up the bobsled. I don’t believe it! They’re picking it up and now they are carrying it. These crazy guys are going to get to that damn finish line by hook or by crook. It’s time people. Can you feel it? The air is buzzing with it. It’s perfect. Someone in the crowd feels it and they’ve started it—the slow clap. It builds, slowly of course, as more and more people join in. It soon becomes a joyous crescendo and the crowd goes wild, spurring on our heroes to reach their poignant but ultimately pointless goal.

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Judge All The Things

Chip Kidd
Simon & Schuster, June 2015, RRP $16.99

Design surrounds our day-to-day lives; from the clothes we wear, to the tools we use, to the advertising that tries to sell us more clothes to wear and tools to use. As I type this article, I use a computer that has included stages of design for hardware, operating system and word processing software, all to allow the simple task of writing a review while sitting on the couch in my tracksuit pants (an important part of the writing process).

However, while design surrounds us, it can still be quite flawed, as anyone who has tried to use a modern can opener without instructions can attest. Of course, Chip Kidd, renowned book designer and author of Judge This, wouldn’t have you passively accept the good and bad of design in the world. Instead, he advocates that we do exactly what the title of his book suggests, and judge, with a critical eye, those objects we experience every day. Continue reading

Who Dunne It


Gillian Flynn (Phoenix Fiction, 2013) ISBN: 978-0-7538-2766-6

I’d apologise for the title, but Gillian Flynn has got to have had that pun in mind as she wrote this much talked-about thriller.  Centred on the disappearance of beautiful Amy Elliott Dunne and the increasing suspicion on her husband Nick, the story truly does beg the question, pun and all.  The alternative title was even worse, so consider yourselves lucky.

Gone Girl is, despite its popularity, not something I would typically be drawn to.  I wrote in my last review of my aversion to Midsomer Murders and I am sorry to report the taint has spread to cover pretty much the entire mystery genre.  I’m not entirely sure why I dislike the genre so much, but I don’t enjoy reading mysteries or watching procedurals.  Still, I’d heard many good things about Gone Girl before my mother, a fan of mystery novels and procedurals, said I should read it.  The film adaptation starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, opened early last month and has achieved not insignificant box office success.

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