Sunday, February 5, 2017


Ron Fortier's Airship 27 Productions blessed us with a most imaginative anthology in "The Amazing Harry Houdini". Now, thanks to one of its authors, the talented I.A. Watson, a novel-length sequel arrives..."Holmes and Houdini"!!!

As the title clearly conveys, the fictional detective and real-life escapologist cross paths, accompanied, of course, by dear ol' Dr. John Watson and Houdini's diligent agent, Martin Beck, to face the unscrupulous Far Edge Club, while unraveling the mystery of the Ghost Mask of L'Inconnu: a death-mask novelty that's used as a muse among the artistic clique. 

Beyond the mask's haunting presence, the wicked band seeks vengeance on Houdini (through a "most dangerous game" set-up) for having once thwarted a vile faction of the group in a catacombs misadventure. Still, with such adroit friends at his side, does the Far Edge Club really stand a chance against the masterful magician? Then again, with Professor Moriarty seemingly connected to events, per his own peculiar death mask (and some troubling, accompanying symbols), can our heroes be so certain of success? 

I.A. Watson connects the Holmes and Houdini tracks once the story progresses, but at first presents them as parallel paths, via differing writing styles: the Holmes portion told via Dr. Watson's classic manner and Houdini's more so in the vernacular, which clicks with our hero's hip pep. Somehow the contrasting styles mesh without a hitch: truly, an amazing accomplishment by our exceptionally skilled writer. 

As I read, Chad Hardin's cover, featuring Peter Cushing's interpretation of Baker Street's great detective, caused me to recall Hammer Studio's 1959 version of "Hound of the Baskervilles" (though Cushing did, in fact, play Holmes well after such for the BBC). In this regard, I envisioned the novel as not only a sequel to "Amazing Harry Houdini", but one to the '59 cinematic classic. (It was also fun to fancy which of Hammer's stately thespians might have portrayed the legendary American, but for the sake of any reader's utmost enjoyment, the real-deal Houdini is the one-and-only to imagine here.) 

Also, the Far Edge Club, which is meticulously detailed throughout the novel, reminded me of the insidious group featured in Hammer's "Taste the Blood of Dracula", though our author's version is far trickier in its scope: not so much interested in testing the waters of debauchery, but already deeply immersed in it. 

Additionally, "Holmes and Houdini" features excellent, interior illustrations by Rob Davis, Airship's prolific art director, who's supplied stunning imagery for Airship's previous Holmes titles. 

"Amazing Harry Houdini" was one of the most engaging books of 2015-16, and "Holmes and Houdini" equals its mysterious splendor for '17 and beyond.  I.A.Watson does a flawless job in linking his crossover to his Houdini short story and the offerings of Jim Beard, Roman Leary and James Palmer, but his novel can also be absorbed as a thrilling stand-alone, if one wishes. 

Can't wait for the audiobook from Radio Archives, but for the time being, I'm most grateful to have this marvelous story to enjoy in printed form. 

For those of hankering a taste (and I can't recommend "Holmes and Houdini" enough), the novel is available in either paperback or Kindle form at...


  1. Great review, Michael, thanks so much.

    1. You're most welcome, Captain Ron. Thanks for publishing such a wonderful book.