The Unpleasantness at Baskerville Hall (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #4) ★★★✬☆

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Title: The Unpleasantness at Baskerville Hall
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #4
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 212
Words: 74K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

An escaped cannibal, a family curse … and Reginald Worcester turning up on the doorstep. Could things get any worse for the Baskerville-Smythe family?

As the bodies pile up, only a detective with a rare brain – and Reggie’s is so rare it’s positively endangered – can even hope to solve the case.

But… there is the small matter that most of the guests aren’t who they say they are, the main suspect has cloven feet, and a strange mist hangs over great Grimdark Mire.

Luckily the young master has Reeves, his automaton valet, and Emmeline, his suffragette fiancee, on hand to assist.

My Thoughts:

While this is the 4th (or fifth depending on how you add/subtract/multipy/divide the series) book in the series, it is the first full length novel and I have to say, it suffered for that. Which is why it is getting 3.5stars instead of 4.

There was nothing bad about this, but the Wodehousian humor, just like with the original Jeeves and Wooster, can wear thin if spread too thick (ironic isn’t it?) Novellas and short stories work best it would seem for both Wodehouse and Dolley.

There is another novel after this one but I think I’m going to hold off on it until I see if Dolley produces any more and if he does, whether they are more novellas or full length novels. There is no overarching plot to draw me on and I have to admit, I am thankful Dolley didn’t go that route.

The title is a clever mix of both Sherlock Holmes (Hound of the Baskervilles) and Lord Peter Wimsey (Unpleasantness at the Belona Club). I didn’t make much of a connection to the Wimsey novel outside of the title but a more seasoned mystery reader might be able to put the puzzle together better than I did.

I am glad I read this series, as it tided me over until I felt like reading some books by Wodehouse himself. Kind of ease my way back into that brand of humor.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Aunt Paradox (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Aunt Paradox
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 91
Words: 28K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

HG Wells has a problem. His Aunt Charlotte has borrowed his time machine and won’t give it back. Now she’s rewriting history!

Reggie Worcester, gentleman’s consulting detective, and his automaton valet, Reeves, are hired to retrieve the time machine and put the timeline back together. But things get complicated. Dead bodies start piling up behind Reggie’s sofa, as he finds himself embroiled in an ever-changing murder mystery. A murder mystery where facts can be rewritten, and the dead don’t always stay dead.

My Thoughts:

This was SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Being familiar with HG Wells’ story The Time Machine, while not an absolute necessity, definitely makes everything that much funnier. And the author plays around a LOT with Babbage and uses him as the kind of “every genius”, as in Babbage’s Cat, ie, is it dead or alive? I’m sure you all know it wasn’t Babbage’s Cat, but since Babbage is the one who helped the automatons to be created, he gets to be the resident world genius.

Dolley gets right into the horror of Aunts that is prevalent in Wodehouse and really amps things up. Wells’ Aunt takes 40+ copies of herself from history for her upcoming birthday and obviously chaos insues. In fact, HG Wells turns into a girl in one of the iterations. It was hilarious.

I also thought Dolley did a good job of wrapping things up so that the timeline established was the only timeline. Nice and neat and orderly. Speaking of neatly, all of this was done in under 100 pages. For feth’s sake Sanderson, Gwynne and some of you other frakking authors, take note. A good story can be told without drowning me in your pomposity and super-overabundance of words. Mr Dolley, I salute you for your brevity and wit. More authors should be like you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reggiecide (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Reggiecide
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 68
Words: 21.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Guy Fawkes is back and this time it’s a toss up who’s going to be blown up first – Parliament or Reginald Worcester, gentleman consulting detective.

But Guy might not be the only regicide to have been dug up and reanimated. He might be a mere pawn in a plan of diabolical twistiness.

Only a detective with a rare brain – and Reggie’s is amongst the rarest – could possibly solve this ‘five-cocktail problem.’ With the aid of Reeves, his automaton valet, Emmeline, his suffragette fiancée, and Farquharson, a reconstituted dog with an issue with Anglicans, Reggie sets out to save both Queen Victoria and the Empire.

My Thoughts:

I laughed almost the entire way through this book. Dolley has captured the spirit of PG Wodehouse and while I won’t say he’s improved it, he’s distilled it to its essence and captured it in under 100 pages. I hadn’t even realized how short it was until I went looking for the data. It didn’t feel like a long book but it still felt like a complete story. That takes some talent as far as I’m concerned.

I do like that Reggie is affianced and not a single guy bumbling around. So far there have been no marriage proposal shenanigans and I’m guessing Dolley is staying away from that particular aspect of the original Jeeves & Wooster. Emmeline makes for a great catalyst to “make things happen” as she’s a spitfire, dynamite and ball of wax all rolled into one.

A small part of me wants to complain that these novellas about Reeves & Worcester aren’t long enough, but if I am being honest, they are just the right length. Long enough to be funny but not so long that they wear out the humor and send the reader off in a bad mood.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What Ho, Automaton! (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: What Ho, Automaton!
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 143
Words: 52K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

What Ho, Automaton! chronicles the adventures of Reggie Worcester, gentleman consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves.

Reggie, an avid reader of detective fiction, knows two things about solving crime: One, the guilty party is always the person you least suspect. And, two, The Murders in the Rue Morgue would have been solved a lot sooner had the detective the foresight to ask the witnesses if they’d seen any orang-utans recently. Reeves needs all his steam-powered cunning and intellect to curb the young master’s excessive flights of fancy. And prevent him from getting engaged.

The book contains two stories set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs.

What Ho, Automaton! – an 8,000 word novelette of how the two met.

Something Rummy This Way Comes – a 41,000 word novella chronicling their first case. When Reggie discovers that four debutantes have gone missing in the first month of The London Season and, for fear of scandal, none of the families have called the police, he feels compelled to investigate. With the help of Reeves’s giant brain and extra helpings of fish, he conducts an investigation that only a detective of rare talent could possibly envisage.

Mystery, Zeppelins, Aunts and Humour. A steam-powered Wodehouse pastiche.

My Thoughts:

Oh my! This hit my Wodehouse funny bone perfectly. This is a parody of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster series and I’m not sure it would really work if you’re not familiar with the original. However, I AM familiar with the original and this send up had me in stitches. If you’re not familiar with English English (as opposed to Real American English) Worcester is pronounced almost the same as Wooster, so even the names are a great parody.

This is not a timeless classic. But it is a boatload of fun and had me laughing out loud. It reminded me of my reaction to the first couple of Jeeves books. And since there are only four books in this Reeves and Worcester series, I don’t have to worry about going overboard and burning out on the humor (which is pretty much what happened to me with Jeeves, too much in a row).

The steampunk side of things was handled very lightly so it didn’t overwhelm the story but it had some big intrusions (the Queen is a cyborg and the Germans are trying to replace British royalty with robots) so if steampunk is your thing, this should fill that itch.

The only reason I’m not giving this 5stars is because there is one rather “swishy” character that really toed the line but didn’t cross it and a rather crude sentence near the end about body parts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.