This is the 102nd in my series of Forgotten Books.
This is the first time I have reviewed an e-book in this column and it probably will not be the last one. This is a novella featuring Mina and James Stark, Lord and Lay Gallatin, who are detectives of the occult in Drummond England at an alternate Victorian Steampunkish England.
This novella was also published under the title THE AFFAIR OF THE WOODEN BOY and I think I like that title better. One evening following a masked ball, the Starks arrive home to find a child’s wooden puppet on their doorstep. The puppet claims to be Simon Delhalm, son of Courtland Delhalm who is known to James by reputation but not by sight.
Simon claims to have been attacked at school by a janitor and taken to the basement where a wizard performed a ceremony which should have driven his soul from his fleshly body into a gingerbread man. At the last moment, Mr. Jinx the puppet reached out and Simon’s soul went into it rather than the gingerbread man. So Simon is trapped in the wooden puppet while someone else inhabited his. A talking horse directed the boy to the Starks for assistance.
This is fascinating to James. Mina records the tale, playing Watson to his psychic Holmes. They decide to take the case and help the young boy/puppet. Simon’s mother had been killed in a coach accident and his father had eventually remarried a few years. Simon did not get on well with Vivian, his stepmother. The Starks visit the Delhams in their role as Lord and Lady Gallatin. Mina thinks of them more as Stark, rather than Gallatin. The Delham house is guarded by mechanical men. They meet the young “Simon” while on the visit and sense a dark evil there.
I really liked the England portrayed in the book. The city is filled with gargoyles, bears, werewolves, vampires, and the like. James Stark knows many of these creatures, some of which are friends, and some of which are not.
Overall this was a fun quick read which I quite enjoyed. “Ian Doyle” turns out to be prolific author Mel Odom from Oklahoma. He has been a full time writer for many years in a variety of genres. The cover of the book is by his longtime friend, Keith Birdsong, who has done many fine covers over the years. I can recommend this book quite readily.
Right now I see it available for the Kindle for $.99 and you can’t beat that. Check it and other titles out.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.