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Publisher's Summary

Thomas Watson left London two years ago and crossed the Atlantic to become a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia, 1920s Philadelphia, a city that rivals Al Capone's Chicago for its crime and corruption. Why would he go so far from family and friends? Admittedly, he was trying to get away - away from the shadow of his famous father, Dr. John Watson, and his father's even more famous friend, Sherlock Holmes.

Shortly after Thomas leaves London, Sherlock dies, and Dr. Watson takes on the responsibility of caring for Sherlock's older brother, Mycroft. After two short years in which Thomas finds little success in journalism, Dr. Watson dies suddenly; though Thomas stands to inherit his father's estate, he is also saddled with the responsibility of Mycroft, who has mysteriously shown up in Philadelphia, ready to move in. Puzzled by this strange turn of events, Thomas takes a walk and suddenly finds himself caught up in the biggest story of his career a suspicious explosion at a speakeasy, which kills the owner and his card-playing buddies.

The principal suspect of the police is Basil Meridan, a former British butler whom Thomas befriends and Mycroft hires as a servant. Needled into making a bet with a rival reporter that he can solve the mystery, Thomas is immediately hampered in his investigation by his editor, who fires him for spending too much time on a dead-end story. As he attempts to recover from this setback, he is escorted against his will to a meeting with bootlegger Boo Boo Hoff and his goons. They also want to know who the killer is, and provide their own unique encouragement for Thomas to find the solution to the mystery. All this makes it necessary to for him to solve the mystery, or lose his money, his job, maybe even his life. From the scanty clues that Thomas compiles, Mycroft is able to solve the mystery, but he is tight-lipped about the solution after all, Thomas should be able to figure it out himself! But can Thomas discover the murderer before he becomes his next victim?

©2014 David E. Fessenden (P)2014 David E. Fessenden

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Russell
  • Keswick, ON, Canada
  • 08-13-15

Inspired for me, Divinely inspired for my wife

This book was received free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Not sure if I will do this again because there was a worry that one possible outcome was hating the book and the narration and having to tell about this. Easier to just use up a credit.

Fortunately I liked the book and narration. The Sherlock Holmes connection is handled admirably as we are introduced to Mr. Watson’s son who has moved to the U.S. to become a journalist. The other link to Sherlock is the arrival of his brother Mycroft looking for a place to stay. Thomas Watson who has been relegated to writing obituaries stumbles into a probable gang hit of a speakeasy using an explosive that results in four deaths. He immediately tries to parlay this first hand encounter into getting an item published in his newspaper. Unfortunately the editor is not very confident in this new reporter and he hands over the project to an experienced reporter who sees this as a mob murder.

The best elements for a good mystery are to leave a few crumbs for the amateur sleuth along the way and to sometimes zig when the reader wants to zag. Fessenden accomplishes this and doesn’t trample on the original Sherlock Holmes myth too much by inventing a new character - the son of Mr. Watson and fleshing out a minor character - Mycroft. Thomas Watson is not a super sleuth as he tries to figure out who the killer is. Fortunately he is helped by Mycroft who is brilliantat at detection, yet different than Sherlock. I wasn’t happy with Mr. Watson being recast in his later years as “finding religion” although my wife a huge Sherlock Holmes fan would like that wrinkle that was mentioned briefly. This sets up a meeting with a pious father and daughter midway through the book. She becomes a romantic interest for the bumbling Thomas.

If there is a sequel to this book and they use Paul Woodsen who has now become a distinctive voice for an inspired series, I will definitely purchase it.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

In the vein of the original Sherlock Holmes series

What did you love best about The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy - A Holmes-Watson Detective Team in Jazz-Age Philly!?

The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy is an intriguing tale of Dr. Watson's son. Through a series of events this struggling reporter is forced to solve the mystery of an explosion at a speakeasy in order to keep his job. Working to complete the story he finds himself in danger as he searches for the answer. Sherlock Holme's brother Mycroft Holme's lends a hand, mentoring Dr. Watson's son in this exciting adventure.

This book is a great read! I thoroughly enjoyed the story and premise. It is a fresh take on the original Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I can't recommend this book enough, 5 Stars! I can't wait to see what Mr. Fessenden comes up with next.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy - A Holmes-Watson Detective Team in Jazz-Age Philly!?

The exciting conclusion to the mystery, as well as Mycroft Holmes' help throughout the book.

Have you listened to any of Paul Woodson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but I thought that he did great with this one.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I really enjoyed the whole story and thought it was very well written and performed.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but a little weak

Thomas Watson, son of John Watson, the famous Sherlock Holmes chronicler, has moved to Philadelphia in the 1920s to become a newspaperman in <strong>The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy</strong> by David E. Fessenden. Despite being the only employee to have a college degree, Thomas has been relegated to writing obituaries, only to be handed the report of his father's death, which has taken place not long after the famous detective's death. Then he learns that in addition to being left his father's estate, he has also been left Sherlock's brother, Mycroft Holmes, who has shown up unexpectedly to move in with Thomas.

Coming home from the newspaper office, Thomas witnesses the explosion of a speakeasy, with bills of money pouring out the window. Eager to report on something serious, Thomas locates the English butler, Basil Meridan, who served the speakeasy and interviews the man. Basil states that when the door did not open as he brought a pitcher of beer to a group of regular men playing poker, he looked through the keyhole, to see Harry Reagan with a look of rage on his face. Basil ended up somehow in the downstairs servants' quarters, and then the upper room exploded, killing three men.

Thomas sees his chance finally to make a name for himself as a journalist, but his insistence on pursuing this case gets Thomas fired. Now, he, Mycroft, and Basil, whom Mycroft knew in England and has immediately hired, must work together to find the truth behind the death of Harry Reagan. It takes them into the world of the underground Mob and that of smuggled liquor.

The plot of <strong>The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy</strong> had some fascinating elements to it, but I felt it didn't really fit into the mold of a Holmes book. Since the popularity of the 21st century BBC show <em>Sherlock</em>, Holmes pastiches have become very popular. However, I have found that many of them go outside the realm of the possible realities of Sherlock Holmes. I think that they take advantage of the name in order to gain extra attention. In this case, we focus on the son of Dr. Watson and brother of Sherlock Holmes, but they do not seem to me to fit in with the elements of Holmes stories. This book would suit better if it kept the plot without inserting Holmes into it.

That said, the characters and solution to the mystery had interest in its time capsule setting of Prohibition Era Philadelphia. The best character is that of Basil, who endears himself to us in his loyalty and intelligence without strutting about like the peacock we see in Mycroft. The conclusion uses scientific principles to create its solution, but it does get a little complex.

Paul Woodson performs the audio version of <strong>The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy</strong>. This was only the third or fourth book out of more than 100 recordings by Woodson, so presumably the quality of the recording would be much weaker than the others. However, I would never have recognized this fact based upon the high quality of the recording. The narration in the voice of Thomas Watson sounds clear and effective in his role. He uses voices that suit the characters well, such as the imperious Mycroft and efficient butler Basil. The women further, in the characters of Maggie and Rose, have pleasant voices.

<strong>The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy</strong> had some creative details to it, in particular the mystery behind the explosion. However, I thought the plot could have been stronger, as it did not have many details of the red herrings shown in good mystery stories. I give this book three stars.

<strong>Disclaimer:</strong> I received this book for free, but it had no effect on the content of the review.

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Not the Worst. But Close

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Holmesian neophytes who are members of the religious right.

What do you think your next listen will be?

Anything not divinely inspired

What didn’t you like about Paul Woodson’s performance?

It wasn't the worst, but after a while several of the characters started sounding the same.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy - A Holmes-Watson Detective Team in Jazz-Age Philly!?

Most of the dialog... It is so redundant in many places that you wish the author had been in the explosion himself. It seems that this was a very short story based on content, then stretched into novel length. Guess the author was paid by the word.

Any additional comments?

Try a different divinity for inspiration

0 of 4 people found this review helpful