Saturday, July 07, 2012

My Particular Friend: 5-star review and giveaway!

Sherlock Holmes stories were among the first non-kid books that I read as a teenager, and I've revisited them many times over the years, each time relishing the nostalgic feelings I get reading them and enjoying the characters and stories and absolute cleverness of Doyle and his masterful creation.

My Particular Friend, by fellow Coloradoan author, Jennifer Petkus, is a glorious reworking of Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. John Watson.  Reincarnated into Regency England as Charlotte Holmes and Jane Woodsen, My Particular Friend recounts the adventures of the pair as they solve mysteries matrimonial rather than murderous. 

The book was enormously fun to read on several levels.  First, the stories themselves are interesting as are the characters of Charlotte and Jane, as well as the servants, friends, and clients who surround them.  I loved seeing characteristics from the originals shine forth in their Regency-lady-versions--Charlotte is every bit as clever, self-assured, and focused as Sherlock, and Jane is a tireless sidekick, taking notes, offering theories, and serving as a sounding board, foil, and companion.  I also liked the fact that Petkus threw in a bit of romance for Jane in the form of the dashing Dr. Wallace (be still my beating heart!).

It's also great fun to catch the author's many references and allusions to her favorite authors, including Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde, and Shakespeare.  The book is scattered with # symbols, and you can visit its website to read the footnotes associated with each # sign.  The footnotes include tidbits explaining Regency dress, customs, and other details of life as well as literary allusions.  I didn't read an ebook version of the book, but I imagine the # signs are hotlinks to the footnotes, which is very cool.

I recently reread The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, which contains some of my favorite stories, and I had to smile to see the Conan Doyle story The Naval Treaty reworked by Petkus into The Affair of Brotherly Love. Petkus did a marvelous job translating it to her own fictional world and reimagining the challenge of removing a valuable document from an impregnable stronghold.  It is a story worthy of the original--clever, full of blind alleys, and immensely satisfying to read.

That said, I have to admit that my personal favorite story was The Affair of the Reluctant Bachelor, in which a Bertie Wooster character, recast as Bertie Worcester, finds himself engaged to two women at the same time.  Charlotte and Jane must help Bertie as his faithful valet, Cheevers (Jeeves, in the P.G. Wodehouse stories that inspired this one) is not on hand to tell him what to do.  I laughed through the whole story--loved Petkus's Bertie as much as I've loved Wodehouse's Bertie, and felt the whole was light, bright, and sparkling.

I'm hoping that Petkus is working on volume two as I'm not nearly tired of reading Charlotte House stories and just hope she never feels compelled to send her creation to Reichenbach Falls.  My Particular Friend is charming, literary, and witty--basically, everything I look for in a particular friend, and it turned out to be a particularly good read!

I am happy to announce that Jennifer Petkus has offered up two versions of My Particular Friend for a giveaway. 

A paperback version is available for U.S. residents, and a Kindle version is available for non-U.S. residents. 

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment below and include your email address so that I can reach you should you be one of two happy winners.  The contest ends on Saturday, July 14 at 8 pm MDT.


  1. As a huge fan of anything Sherlock, I'm always on the lookout for good "reincarnations" of the character. Thanks for the chance to win this novel!

    susanobryant at gmail dot com

  2. I am eager to read this book! The allusions you point to make it sound like a perfect summer novel.

  3. Thanks so much for the wounderful review, and I have to say I enjoyed writing The Reluctant Bachelor so much that I had trouble keeping it as a short story. And I am so glad you saw the nod to The Naval Treaty.

    The inspiration for my story came from a peculiar feature of Cleveland House that sits on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Narrowboats actually pass under the house and there's supposedly a trap door that would allow something to be dropped into a boat. What a wonderful way to lose a blunt object, but unfortunately the house wasn't yet built, another example of stupid history not coinciding with my plot needs.

  4. Found the giveaway through your GoodReads post.

    The book looks like good fun - sign me up!


    and I've now officially stalked Jennifer on GoodReads, Amazon and Twitter :)

    Love her Amazon bio!

  5. Short of Stephen King Misery stalking, I'm happy to meet you online, Marita.

  6. I have this book, Jane. What I lack is reading time! Thanks so much for the review!

    *Laura moves Jennifer Petkus' books --- I have her other book as well --- to the top of the pile*

  7. I've been getting deeply back into Sherlock Holmes recently, and I've finally read all the novels. I was more intent on the short stories before. This sounds like a fun read. You can click on my name to e-mail me.

  8. I'm loving the most recent Sherlock tv series and I've always enjoyed Austen so I'm sure a combo of the two will be awesome :)

    carrie dot rogozinski at

  9. I do enjoy the new BBC Sherlock series and I'm even willing to give CBS's Elementary a try, but I would love for a Canonical series to find a home somewhere. The Granada series was a long time ago and it was shot on 16mm film. Imagine how wonderful a new Holmes in high definition would be.

  10. This sounds interesting. I like when a writer takes an old theme and changes it up a bit with a new perspective. I also think that it is neat when an author throws in references to other writers and artists as a kind of tribute.

  11. I was reading your second paragraph this "this sounds like great fun" and the very next paragraph tells me that it is! Love to find books that rework the classics without being utterly derivative.