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Last week, I reviewed A Lady for a Duke as part of my Pride Month celebration of British author Alexis Hall.
Book: The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall
Publisher: Ace Books
Publication date: 2019
Source: eBook borrowed from the library
Summary: Captain John Wyndham returns home injured from a pointless but somehow necessary war and finds himself in need of lodging. He answers an advertisement for an apartment with the number 221b to share with the current resident whose initials are SH.
Ms. Shaharazad Haas proves to be a solver of problems who doesn’t mind leaving even more problems behind her. She bulldozes ahead of all those with lesser intellect and fewer powers. In spite of his more rigid notion of the way things should be done, John becomes both intrigued and useful. The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is John Wyndham’s account of his first case with Ms. Shaharazad Haas.
Fortunately, John Wyndham is quite clear that his audience may not be familiar with the details of life in the city of Khelathra-Ven and its multitude of citizens from far flung worlds and time periods. He explains with only mild judgment the locations, societies, and sorceries that he encounters.
Thoughts: I’m so impressed by the variety of genres and styles that author Alexis Hall employs. The two books about a fictitious British baking show read like they were movie rom-coms in print. Last week’s book, A Lady for A Duke was written in a fictional style that I’m very familiar with — a historical novel set in England after the Napoleonic Wars.
The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is written in a faux Victorian formality that manages to establish the narrator as a bit of a prude while also being extremely funny. It’s been too long since I’ve read Arthur Conan Doyle, so I don’t know how much this borrows from the voice of John Watson. More recently, it reminds me of the novels by Gail Carriger where the Victorian formality of the narration adds to the humor (The Parasol Protectorate, the Finishing School series, and more).
I’m hoping for a sequel, since there are clearly many adventures ahead for Captain John Wyndham and Shaharazad Haas. But this book has a satisfying ending and there is no buzz about another.
Appeal:The Affair of the Mysterious Letter will appeal to lovers of Sherlock Holmes, steampunk, and science fiction set in multiverses.
Have you read this book? What did you think?