cover image The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Alexis Hall. Ace, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-440-00133-1

This zany queer and fantastical pastiche of the Sherlock Holmes stories froths with magic and humor. Its narrator, John Wyndham, is Watson to the Sherlock of Shaharazad Haas, a drug-bingeing sorceress who possesses formidable skills of deduction. Their client is Lady Eirene Viola Delhali, a socialite being blackmailed with anonymous letters that demand she break off her impending nuptials to her lover, Cora Beck. When Shaharazad narrows down the possible suspects to five, the stage is set for a series of adventures across the triple cities of Khelathra-Ven, a locale fluid in time and space that includes realms modeled on Robert W. Chambers’s The King in Yellow and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Hall (For Real) nudges the reader’s ribs with subtle satires of the works he’s mashing up, and enlivens the plot with amusing scrapes and confrontations attributable to Shaharazad’s infamy from (suggested) past exploits. This is a fun riff on canonical works of fantasy and detection. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (June)