The Only Witness (Neema Mystery, #1)The Only Witness by Pamela Beason
An ingenious & charming mystery, starring improbably sympathetic characters: Brittany, a feckless teenage mother who leaves her baby in the car to dash into a store. Finn, a grumpy detective who’s saddled with his ex-wife’s menagerie & out of the loop in this grapevine-infested small town. And Neema, the only witness to the baby’s abduction: a gorilla who’s learned sign language, in a program that’s just been de-funded. Pamela Beason deftly weaves local prejudices, personal quirks, & challenging circumstances into a believable net that traps each protagonist. Each plot strand is compelling, & they converge in a satisfying resolution.

The House of Silk (Sherlock Holmes #1)The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
As the creator & writer of Foyle’s War, Anthony Horowitz is up there in my firmament with Jane Austen, Aaron Sorkin, Hilary Mantel, & Tom Stoppard. I really wanted to read & love The House of Silk, even though most pastiches of storytellers from another era hurt my ears & sink my spirits. OK, Horowitz’s stab at James Bond (the cleverly titled Trigger Mortis) lost me in the first 2 pages; but his excellent TV recreation of World War II boded well for stepping back another half-century into the role of Dr. Watson narrating a Sherlock Holmes adventure.

House of Silk starts out familiar & promising — Baker Street ambience, unnerved client, deductive legerdemain, bristly camaraderie (Holmes-Watson) & sibling rivalry (Sherlock-Mycroft) — & expands fluidly into a web of business, art, society, & politics. There were a few jarring anachronisms, but the voice wasn’t cringe-worthy, & the plot kept me on board for 128 pages.

Then this:
“…Holmes had no idea of the type of people with whom he was dealing nor the lengths to which they would go to protect themselves. He had entered a veritable miasma of evil, and harm, in the worst possible way, was to come to us all too soon.”

Translation: “As a 21st-century reader you’re probably bored with this 19th-century pace, or about to be, so here’s a violent jab to keep you hooked.”

At that point I closed the book, & I haven’t reopened it until now.

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