Book Review: Psalms of Sherlock By Gail Ann Swales

Let’s get this out front: I am not a Sherlock nerd. I’ve watched the old movies, I’ve read some of the original books, and I’ve enjoyed the modern BBC series via Netflix.

However, I’d be hard pressed to come up with his address if you asked me after lunch. Mrs. Hudson might just be the woman who runs the hot dog cart in Rice Park, and John Watson is vaguely familiar. 7% solution? Uh, is that for weeds?

I must, however, heartily endorse Psalms of Sherlock by Gail Ann Swales. I was recently given a copy as a gift, and read it over the course of a very busy week. It was an even busier week than I’d planned, because that book kept drawing me back and inviting me to ignore my assigned tasks.

The book pays homage to the original in tone. There is a great fluidity to the dialogue, and the scenes are well set down to the smells and lighting. It fits within the modern canon of Holmes, and does not go far astray from what you would expect if you turned on the television and watched any other Sherlock Holmes work.

I’m just ignorant enough to admit that I’m not sure if all the characters were in the originals, or if some where created just for this work. What I am sure of is that they fit in this universe.

Swales tells a great tale. She focuses on the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and does so in a very charming, engaging manner. I wanted to turn the page and see what they would get up to next as each scene ended.

The work also delves into the spiritual side of the characters. Holmes, in the original works, is a spiritualist with questions. In this work his search for answers is dealt with in a unique manner. I approve of her light hand in the long tale, and only toward the end of the book does it become strong enough to be noticeable: but that is to be expected, as it’s the point of the book!

I had only one major objection to the book: the author spells John Watson’s name differently every time it comes from Sherlock Holmes’ lips. Meant to be a “pet” pronunciation, it is jarring when you first encounter the affectation. If you know it’s coming, I suspect it wouldn’t be “a thing” but I kept wondering how such an otherwise marvelously clean work could contain such an egregious typographical error. The answer is that it’s meant to be that way. Be forewarned.

I would give the book a 4.75 star review just based on that one spelling issue – it bugged me that much. Then I started to think about it, and if you can ignore that one little thing it’s a great read, good plot, and delightful message. Let’s just round it up and call it five stars and be done with it. After all, the game’s afoot!


Book Review: Psalms of Sherlock By Gail Ann Swales — 2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great review, Joe. I certainly appreciate your honesty in the Jawn=John thing. Sorry it was so jarring. Perhaps if you think of it as a nickname? Now I have a real dilemna in my next work. LOL. God bless!

    • Gail:

      More importantly, it makes me feel bad as a cryptologist that I didn’t pick up on it’s usage until I contacted you. I must be slipping. The book was excellent!