In the matter of The Italian Secretary, a mystery is "afoot". Caleb Carr, the author of the intricate and exciting mysteries The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness, has given the many fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a new Sherlock Holmes mystery to savor. The Italian Secretary has all of the plot points that draw us into solving crimes with Holmes and Watson. The story is set in Victorian England, at Holyroodhouse, the official British royal residence in Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only does Carr provide us with unexplained and unusually performed murders, but a hint of the supernatural, as well. As addicts of Sherlock Homes mysteries can tell you, Conan Doyle was a believer in spiritualism, which was quite a popular diversion in the Victorian era, both in Europe and in the United States. Add two royal employees, murdered in a manner "most foul", a dark castle turret room, once inhabited by the Scottish Queen Mary, stir in a ghost and characters who are not what they seem and you have the recipe for the perfect Sherlock Holmes mystery.
Having read Volume I of the Complete Sherlock Holmes and read most of Volume II, I was very excited to learn of a modern day addition to the Holmes mysteries. Caleb Carr has captured the dark and moody atmosphere exhibited in Conan Doyle's mysteries so well, that, once firmly ensconced in the story, you forget that you are reading a novel written in 2005, by someone other than Sir Arthur.
With all of the talk lately about the British royal family, and the birth of Prince George, third in line to the throne, this is the perfect time to delve into a story that involves intrigue in the palace of a Queen. Written with the permission of the Conan Doyle estate, The Italian Secretary is a marvelous mystery, one which I hope and pray Carr follows with another, and another, and another....."Eh, Watson?"
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