The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter

Alexis Hall

Captain Wyndham is drawn into a mystery that leads him from literary salons to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. 

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In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters.

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham is drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark.

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas' stock-in-trade.

Advance Galley Reviews

Didn't get a chance to read this one before it expired.

I gave up after 45%. I couldn't get into the world which, admittedly, could have been interesting in a steam-punky kind of way, but the narrative was so dull.

Just couldn't get into the story much at all. I wanted to like it but I found myself being mostly uninterested.

I liked the fantasy worlds, Ms. Haas is nuts, and fun, since you don't know what she is going to do next. I liked the book

I tried to get into it, but I couldn’t do it. :(

Thanks for the opportunity to read this book. I have to say this unfortunately was a DNF for me. There were parts that were interesting, but it just overall didn't keep my attention.

Gods, I fucking loved this book. I devoured it while reading. When I had to pause, my mind kept straying back, itching to find out what happens next. It's and different. I didn't know what to expecting going in, just that I had to read it. It's better than I could've imagined. The best way I've thought to describe it is thus: Futurama meets Soulless where everyone is queer with less Beavis & Butthead humor, narrated by Victor Melling from Miss Congeniality but instead of an FBI agent in a beauty pageant, he's got a rogue sorceress addicted to opium who can't go undercover to save her life. Have I mentioned how much I fucking loved this book? All of it. Just...GAH. Also, is this what straight white guys felt about Holmes and Watson this whole time??? A-fucking-mazing. Also, NEED A MILLION SEQUELS!!! I'll try doing a more coherent review in a bit.

I don't understand at all why this one didn't work for me, but it didn't. The description was vastly intriguing, and I tend to love Sherlock Holmes re-imaginings, particularly in the quirky and unusual vein. I love original worlds and original characters, and this book certainly was ripe with both. But for some reason I just never got into it the way I wanted to... Wyndham's retelling of their Adventures - and believe me, they deserve the capitalization - felt overly prim and staid, even for the character, and just never resonated with the spirit of intrigue and dangerous excitement that they should have for me. I must just not be the right audience for this one...

Out of control, this world, and on fire. Loved this unique mystery.

This is, in Alexis Hall’s own words, a “queer fantasy novel” and “it’s probably best summed up as: bisexual lady Holmes and puritan trans Watson solve crimes in a weird fantasy city.” It totally was exactly that. And I expected to be so excited and enthralled with this, but I wasn’t. It was just too much thrown at me and I had a really hard time finishing this book. It was too convoluted and I was often confused for entire sections of the book. But, perhaps if you often read steampunk/sci-fi type novels, you’ll do better than I.

I should have liked this book better. I loved twisted retellings so I was immediately drawn into the concept. The whole book was super quirky with wild (and somewhat insane) characters that thumbed their nose at stereotypes and embraced diversity and inclusion. Again, I should have loved it...but I just did not. It was just too dense and the excessive adventures became exhausting after awhile.

"This cosmos which we inhabit is vast and indifferent. Every law, every teaching, and every tenet by which you might choose to live your life is a fiction that exists only so long as those around you agree upon it." Vastly entertaining, hilarious, fantasy mystery! The stuffy, and dare I say, prudish, Mr. Wyndham and the scandalously salacious Ms. Haas are an absolutely perfectly imperfect pair. The style that the novel is told in adds so much to the world building and tone. All in all, a fun mystery with memorable characters and quite noticeably an opening for this to become a full mystery series! Yay!


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