Sherlock Holmes Society of London
In his introduction, Mattias Boström describes himself as an “embracer” of Holmes in his many forms, and issues the invitation to “shake up Sherlock”. In The Keys of Death, Holmes, if not shaken, is certainly stirred into life. Taken from the perspective of journal entries by Mrs Hudson, Dr Watson and others, we start with a mysterious and lamented death. This leads us into the introduction of the fledgling consulting detective and his soon-to-be landlady. Watson soon joins the gathering at Baker Street, paralleling the events of A Study in Scarlet. This telling, however, presents a much more considerate portrayal of the young Mr Holmes. Mrs Hudson too is much younger than the version many of us may have in our minds, which is no bad thing. With different characters narrating each chapter, Altabef achieves the difficult task of keeping the voices distinct. Through their eyes, we learn of the birth of an enduring friendship — I was much taken with the charming vignette of Holmes and Watson undertaking a cigarette-smoking experiment for the former’s research purposes. Overall, an original and refreshing exploration of the early days of the Baker Street triumvirate, with solid historical research and unexpected entries by other characters who will be well known to the readers.
Mrs Hudson's Kitchen
"Gretchen Altabef is, beyond doubt, one of the most preeminent writers of Sherlock Holmes pastiches. In The Keys of Death, her dedication to research delivers a credible and compelling look at the world of a young Sherlock Holmes. Her impeccable characterizations, particularly of Mrs. Hudson (whom I also envision as a younger, vital woman) and supporting characters are richly drawn. The story itself builds to a stunning crescendo. And the charming and edifying Victorian gardening journal appealed greatly to this “perennial optimist”. Ms. Altabef deserves high praise indeed for The Keys of Death as well as her previous two novels. Hopefully work on number four is currently underway!"
Wendy Heyman-Marsaw, Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen
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