The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars

The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars - Otto Penzler, Anthony Boucher Boucher's writing has a warm, friendly, accessible quality that is relatively rare in modern detective fiction. But then, it's not exactly modern, any more; The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars comes from a unique period of time, just before the US became involved in World War II (or possibly just after Pearl Harbor - but I don't think so, since that event isn't mentioned).It's set in Hollywood. And as any mystery fan would probably guess from the title, Sherlock Holmes is a major focus of the book - although not as a character. Rather, it follows a group of devoted followers of Holmes - five members of the Baker Street Irregulars, which is a real organization of Holmes fans - as they attempt to solve a murder.It's a simply delightful book, witty and charming. Although there are inevitably elements which root the book solidly in its now long-gone era, it has enough of a modern feel and sensibility to still be eminently readable. The characters are interesting and lively, the deductions and adventures are clever and exciting...all in all a very enjoyable book, one that I'll happily read again in a year or two.It may be worth mentioning that the book has a connection to Boucher's best-known detective, the red-headed Fergus O'Breen. Fergus himself does not appear in the book; instead his sister Maureen plays a major role. Although Fergus may be best known for his appearance in some crossover light mystery/fantasy short stories, The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars is firmly grounded in reality. There are no werewolves or magicians here.Boucher had a lovely, light and warm-hearted writing style combined with a truly rare wit. It's a pity that he didn't write more, but his impact as a reviewer and particularly as an editor on the fields of science fiction and mystery was incalculable. For those who enjoy his style, you'll find that the mysteries of Fredric Brown (particularly the Ed and Am Hunter series) are comparable in many ways. So are many of the Ellery Queen books by Ellery Queen, particularly those from roughly the same period (the 1940s). It's worth noting that several of the Ellery books are set in Hollywood too.If you enjoy Boucher's mysteries, I also strongly recommend his science fiction - although alas, there isn't much of it.

Currently reading

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A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster
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