Thursday 23 November 2023

Sherlock Holmes The Substitute Thief - Richard Paolinelli - Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 5

The Substitute Thief
Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Book 5

I have now read three of the 6 Sherlock Holmes Pastiches from the pen of Richard Paolinelli. When I first picked this volume, it was part of a collection called Dreams of the Storyteller, but since then the 6 stories about Holmes have been split off into their own collection. I can recommend the short stories and novellas from both series; the writing is great! stories in this collection. I freely admit I cannot help but pitcher Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and Holmes and Watson, when reading these stories. 

My introduction to Richard’s works was a piece in the anthology Cracked. I have picked up several anthologies he has contributed to, but have only got around to reading 2 of them. Right now I am bouncing around this series. I have also read 1 novel, Galen’s Way, and Galen’s Blade and eagerly await the two forthcoming offerings in that series. I have also picked up several of his other novels after reading the first few stories in this series. 

After the few stories by Paolinelli I have read I am now trying to read one a week until I have read his whole back catalogue. So several of his stories and novels are towards the top of my ‘to be read pile’. Richard is not only an author but the driving force behind Tuscany Bay Books, I have read many volumes from the Bay by a number of authors and all have been well worth the read. 

The six volumes in this collection dropped in 2023. Each of the three I have read to date have been previously published in anthologies. And once I have completed Paolinelli’s stand alone works I will work through all the anthologies he contributed to, and look forward to rereading this story again when I get back to it. Much like I did with Declan Finn last year with reading a story a week until I have read all he has published. Over the last several weeks one of Richard’s stories has been every fourth or 5th volume read.  

This is another excellent story from the Paolinelli ‘s pen. I said in a previous review that I have been aware of Richard and his works for a few years now. It is my loss that I did not dig into his works earlier. I strongly urge you don’t make my mistake, pick some up and give them a read! The description of this story is:

“When a valuable manuscript has been replaced with a forgery, Holmes is called in to find the thief and recover the manuscript.”

This is the shortest description of any work I have read by Paolinelli that I have ever read. And it does not do the story justice. This is a most excellent story and one I am very thankful I have read!

Prior to reading the other Sherlock offering from Paolinelli it had been a long time since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story. This one was another excellent offering. It is very well written story. It fits in perfectly with the other stories I have read in both of official and unofficial Holmes canon. Paolinelli breathes new life into the characters and yet he remains true to their original creation. 

This story begins with these words:

“Five months have passed since the death of my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, at Reichenbach Falls. I sit in our rooms on Baker Street haunted by a ghost, wishing that I could once again see Holmes sitting contentedly in his chair and puffing away at his pipe. Or, playing his violin or even hunched over his latest chemistry experiment.”

The case detailed in this work took place 2 years earlier in Darlington and focused around Lady Lymington and the Library she created as her father’s request when he passed. The case opens with:

“It had not been Lestrade, or some strange newcomer, that had set Holmes on the trail to Darlington that foggy London night. Rather, it came in the form of a letter. 

“It seems, Doctor,” he said, holding it up after reading it, “that our assistance is required on a somewhat delicate matter in Darlington,” he said. 

“Darlington?” I exclaimed. “What could possibly be of such a delicate nature up there?” 

“A rare manuscript has been stolen,” Holmes replied. “The theft hasn’t yet become public knowledge. Lady Lymington – ” He waved the note. “ – hopes that it can be recovered before news of the theft does get out. Her husband, Lord Lymington, has contacts that are useful to Her Majesty’s government.”

And the chase is afoot. This is an odd case involving a local football rivalry. A substitute baller, a substituted book, and a whole town talking about the past match and the rematch. And very few being informed about the missing object.  

This is another excellent short story from Paolinelli’s pen. It draws the reader in quickly, it keeps your attention, and leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, Paolinelli has written 5 other Holmes stories. The characters are wonderfully written, and fit extremely well in the history of the characters. I look forward to the other stories in this series and many of Richard’s other series.

If you have not read anything by Paolinelli don’t make my mistake. Pick some up and give them a read now. There is a lot to choose from and I am sure you will be entertained. At the time of reading this I have read 397 books so far this year, and consider this one of the best stories. This story would be great for fans of the original Holmes stories, or the recent BBC Series. It would be great for fans of mysteries. And adventure stories. And to be honest for anyone who just loves a great short story!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!
For reviews of all books from Tuscany Bay click here.

Books by Richard Paolinelli:
When the Gods Fell
The Calling
The Last Lonely Trail
A Zombie Christmas Carol

Infinity Series:
Escaping Infinity
Exploring Infinity

Starguest 4th Age Series:

Timeless Series:
The Timeless
Secret of the Sphinx

Jack Del Rio Series:
Del Rio Omnibus Edition

Divine Trolls Comedies:
The Fall Of The House Of 770 Vile Aromas 
The Corvo

SeaDragon 1 May 1986
SeaDragon 2 June 1996

Non Fiction:
Perfection’s Arbiter
From The Fields
The Space Shuttle: 1981–2011 

Contributed to:
To Be Men 
Places Beyond The Wild
Space Force Building The Legacy
Secret Stairs 
A Tribute To H.G. Wells (2019 Edition)
Beyond Watson 
Holmes Away From Home, Vol. 2 
Sherlock Holmes Adventures In The Realms Of H.G. Wells 
Sherlock Holmes Aventures In The Realms Of Edgar Allan Poe
The Art Of Sherlock Holmes 
The Mx Book Of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, Part Xxii

Planetary Anthology Series:
Best Of Planetary Anthology Series
Galen's Way Richard Paolinelli

Galen's Blade Richard Paolinelli

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