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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Castle Rouge: A Novel of Suspense featuring Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Jack the Ripper » User review

Guilty pleasure with too much the first, not enough the second

  • Mar 5, 2011
The cover quotes and author bio, as well as the "Reader's Guide" at the end as if this were Classic literature, give too much weight to this mystery-romance claptrap.  I picked this up at a used-book sale based on the plot recap involving Sherlock Holmes, along with his erstwhile female protagonist Irene Adler, in the search for Jack the Ripper. 

It was my first exposure to Douglas, but I thought:  can't go wrong pitting the fictional detective against the too-real serial killer who shared the same London of the late 19th century, can you?  Well, Douglas apparently thinks you can, because she ladles on helpings of Bram Stoker (a struggling theater manager before writing his Draculan opus) and Nellie Bly (the emancipated female journalist), and concocting a plot involving additional Ripper murders in Paris and Prague, bizarre cultic rituals, and (wait for it) . . . . mysterious doings in a Transylvanian castle!  As a bonus, her candidate for the true Jack the Ripper turns out to be another historical figure I've never before heard connected to the Ripper account--perhaps because the connection is so far-fetched!

And all of this is in a coy, stilted writing style that reads like romance fiction.  OK, so I've never read Harlequin novels, but some of the dialogue and writing here is groan-out-loud funny and not in a good way.  Surely there is a similarity here?

If I were not reading this in Beijing with limited access to other English-language reading material, I would have probably stopped.  Unfortunately, in my small stash of things to read I also brought a followup to this novel that includes not only Stoker and Bly, but throws in Oscar Wilde for good measure!

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March 05, 2011
Wow...that sounds like a mess- she should've just picked one aspect or maybe even two and stuck with that. Thanks for the heads up!
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this book


Blend Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes with Dracula lore, toss in a copious complement of czarist Russian history, and the result is Carole Nelson Douglas'sCastle Rouge, her grisly but gripping sequel to 2001'sChapel Noir.

Disaster has struck opera diva-turned-detective Irene Adler Norton. The American adventuress who bested Holmes and thereby won his admiration (in "A Scandal in Bohemia") thought she'd cornered the elusive Ripper on the grounds of the 1889 world's fair in Paris, but instead, he fled to Eastern Europe after kidnapping her friend and biographer, Penelope "Nell" Huxleigh. Now, while Irene--assisted by theatrical manager Bram Stoker, daredevil Yankee reporter Nellie "Pink" Bly, and British spy Quentin Stanhope--sets out for Prague, hoping to rescue Nell, and as Holmes and Dr. John Watson revisit Saucy Jack's earlier homicidal activities in London, Nell finds herself imprisoned, together with Irene's barrister husband, in a crumbling Transylvanian castle, under the malevolent scrutiny of a Russian woman agent and a brutish lust-murderer endowed with hypnotic powers.

Douglas builds considerable intrigue on her way to a surprising solution to the Ripper's identity. Yet it's unfortunate that this sixth Irene Adler yarn focuses more on the prudish Nell and her discomforts as a hostage (no proper corsets-- how shocking!) than on its more intrepid chief protagonist, or even on Pink, whose capacity for audacious exploits was better realized in Chapel Noir. ...

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ISBN-10: 031286941X
ISBN-13: 978-0312869410
Author: Carole Nelson Douglas
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Forge Books
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