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Book Author: Leonard Goldberg

THE ABDUCTION OF PRETTY PENNY by Leonard Goldberg: Book Review

Is is possible?  Can Jack the Ripper actually be back in London, brutalizing and murdering young women on the streets of the city?

Genes will tell, and Joanna Holmes Blalock, daughter of Sherlock Holmes, is now a highly regarded investigator herself.  As the novel opens, Joanna looks out the window of the flat at 221B Baker Street that she shares with her husband John and his father, Dr. Watson, the colleague of her late father, and asks them to give her their impressions of the woman standing in front of the building.  Although both men are physicians and are accustomed to making skilled medical diagnoses, their skill sets cannot compare to Joanna’s abilities in this specialized area.

After her husband minutely describes the woman’s clothing, he deduces that she is a housewife on a shopping tour.  Joanna begins her response with complimenting his keen eye for colors.  “But unfortunately,” she continues, “you have missed everything of importance.”  So Holmesian, don’t you agree?

Joanna’s explanation of why the woman is there, looking up at their windows, is of course correct.  Judging by the anxious expression on the woman’s face, she intuits she has come to seek help, and her deduction is proven correct when Miss Hudson, their landlady, enters and asks their permission to bring the woman upstairs.

Emma Adams introduces herself and explains that she is the owner of the Whitechapel Playhouse in London’s East End.  The players are currently putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet, and Penny Martin, the young woman who plays Juliet, has disappeared.  Mrs. Adams emphasizes that everyone loves the beautiful actress and that she was thrilled to star in the play, but she had confided to Mrs. Adams that she was fearful that she was surrounded by danger.  And then she disappeared.

Penny’s disappearance is followed by a string of gruesome murders of young women, each one more horrifying than the one before.  Joanna and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard are fearful that the way in which the killings have been carried out indicate that they may have been committed by Jack the Ripper, who last plied his trade nearly three decades earlier, or possibly by a copycat killer who has studied the Ripper’s crimes only too well.

There can be no doubt that Joanna has inherited her father’s investigative talent as well as her mother’s intelligence, looks, and poise, her mother being Irene Adler, the only woman who ever outwitted Holmes.  Combining the best attributes of both parents, Joanna has made a name for herself in London, and like her father she relishes solving cases that have stymied Scotland Yard.  Jack the Ripper had evaded the law twenty-eight years earlier, and Joanna is determined that if he has returned he shall not escape justice this time.

Leonard Goldberg is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the UCLA Medical Center and an author whose books have been translated into a dozen languages.  You can read more about him at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

A STUDY IN TREASON by Leonard Goldberg: Book Review

As readers discovered in The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes, a one-night stand between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler led to the birth of their daughter Joanna.  Irene died immediately after the child was born, and Holmes placed the baby with a family who adopted her.  All this was unknown to Joanna until she became an adult; even now that she knows her history, she keeps it a secret from all except her family and Scotland Yard.

When the first novel opened in 1914, Joanna was a widow with a young son.  In the few months that have passed since then, she has married John Watson, Jr., the son of Holmes’ colleague, and has been making her name as a private investigator.

Into their London flat comes Sir Harold Whitlock, First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, to ask for help with a most serious problem.  A document has been stolen from the home of the well-connected Halifax family, despite the extraordinary security precautions taken to protect it.  Given the strained relations between Britain and Germany, the former country has entered into an alliance with France, and the missing paper states in great detail the steps that Britain will take to counter Germany’s navy in the event of war.  In the  the current state of affairs between Britain and Germany, this outcome seems only too likely.

Although Sir Harold came to the flat to seek only the senior Dr. Watson’s assistance, he is soon persuaded, albeit reluctantly, to bring Joanna and John Jr. into his confidence, first making certain that Joanna and both father and son sign the Official Secrecy Act.  Although Sir Harold has heard from Inspector Lestrade (the son of Holmes’ rival) that Joanna can solve anything, he is still wary of involving her and wonders aloud if she is as adept at finding clues as he has been told.  Joanna’s response is, “I see what everyone else sees.  But I think what no one else has thought.”

After receiving a more complete description of the papers, Joanna, her husband, and her father-in-law set out to Hampshire and the ancestral home of the Halifaxes.  The estate is the home of the seventh Duke of Winchester, a man considered above reproach.

Only four people were allowed to enter the room where the document was housed:  the duke, his son, his daughter-in-law, and the family’s butler.  A guard was stationed outside the room, other guards patrolled the grounds, and the treaty was kept in a locked safe unless the duke’s son, himself a member of the government, was copying it so that it could be sent to the various agencies involved.  Nevertheless, during a five minute interval when he left the room, it disappeared.

As he did in his previous novel, Leonard Goldberg brings the England of the previous century to life.  Joanna is exactly the daughter we would expect Holmes and Adler to have had.  She is extremely bright, confident of her abilities, and certain that her approach is the best for getting the document back from whomever stole it.  There is no false modesty in her, only a sense that she will be able to do what is required for success.

Sir Arthur would be proud of this continuation of the Sherlock Holmes legacy.

You can read more about Leonard Goldberg at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.





THE DAUGHTER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Leonard Goldberg: Book Review

It’s 1914 London.  A young woman, dressed in deep mourning, gets out of a hansom cab and hesitantly makes her way up the stairs to the flat that was for many years occupied by Dr. John Watson and the late Sherlock Holmes.  She has come to ask Dr. Watson for help in investigating the death of her brother, Charles Harrelston, who was found dead on the sidewalk in front of a building where a close friend of his was living.

Mary Harrelston tells Dr. Watson and Dr. John Watson Jr., who is visiting his father when she arrives, that her brother, a soldier during the Second Afghan War, would never have committed suicide and left his family to deal with what would be viewed as a terrible scandal.  However, the testimony of an eyewitness, a gardener working nearby, has been enough to convince the investigating officer, Sgt. Lestrade of Scotland Yard, that Charles jumped.  A somewhat different version, given by a young boy who also saw the man plunge to his death, has been ignored.

Dr. Watson and his son agree to look into the case, and the next morning finds them at the home of Sir Henry Blalock and his daughter-in-law Joanna.  Joanna, a widow, is the mother of the extremely observant and precocious youth Johnnie, the other eyewitness.  He insists that the gardener was mistaken in his interpretation of the event.  Johnnie tells the Watsons that the man did not fall from the window but rather from the roof and that he did not try to stop his fall in any way, two details that differ from the gardener’s account.  After hearing the boy’s version, father and son decide that it’s quite possible that Charles was dead before he hit the ground.  That would make his death murder, and they decide to continue investigating.

When Dr. Watson and John return to 221B Baker Street, the senior Watson tells his son an almost incredible story.  Joanna Blalock is actually the biological daughter of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler.  The brief liaison (actually it was a one-night stand) between the celebrated detective and the woman, as Holmes always referred to Irene, resulted in the pregnancy.  Aware that neither one of them could take care of an infant, they arranged for the baby to be adopted and never told of her true lineage.  Irene died immediately after her daughter’s birth, and Holmes, once he was convinced that his infant daughter was in a loving home, made no effort to see or contact her.

Now, more than two decades later, three descendants of the original Holmes’ stories are brought together.  The first two I’ve already mentioned:   Holmes’ daughter Joanna and Sgt. Lestrade, a Scotland Yard detective like his father.  The third descendant is the man from whose window or roof, depending on whom you believe, Charles Harrelston plunged.  He is none other than Christopher Moran, son of Colonel Sebastian Moran, an arch-criminal and colleague of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Leonard Goldberg puts all these characters into a clever, delightful mix.  His characters are true to their ancestors in both positive and negative ways.  In this study of nature vs. nurture both sides win, as does the reader.  The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes is an engaging story that, with its many smart deductions, will remind one of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tales.

You can read more about Leonard Goldberg at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.