Book Reviews of The Italian Secretary

The Italian Secretary
The Italian Secretary
Author: Caleb Carr
ISBN-13: 9780312939137
ISBN-10: 0312939132
Publication Date: 5/2/2006
Pages: 352
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.

3.1 stars, based on 116 ratings
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

24 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 166 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Author Caleb Carr was commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write this new Sherlock Holmes adventure. Holmes, his brother Mycroft, and the faithful Watson join forces to solve a double murder in an Edinburgh palace that seems eerily like a murder that took place 300 years ago. Are the rumors of a ghost possibly real? Who of the Queen's supposedly loyal servants can truly be trusted? Carr writes this one in the manner of Doyle, so it's unlike his earlier historical mysteries, and an easier read, if you don't get bogged down in the archaic language.
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Helpful Score: 1
From Publishers Weekly: "Writing a Sherlock Holmes tale is, for popular writers, equivalent to playing Hamlet for male actors: a challenge that few refuse and many regret. Bestselling author Carr acquits himself with honor, though not high honors, in this short novel that pits Holmes, Watson and Mycroft Holmes against conspirators at Queen Victoria's Royal Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland. When the men are killed at Holyrood in a fashion similar to the slaying centuries before of David Rizzio, an Italian confidant of Mary, Queen of Scots, Mycroft, who is Victoria's head of intelligence, calls upon his brother and Watson to help solve the mystery. Are the killings the work of Scottish nationalists? Or perhaps the sign of a restless ghost? From the latter question, and the novel's primary setting of the dank castle, emanates a well-drawn atmosphere of gloom that makes this story a nice companion to The Hound of the Baskervilles..."Copyright © Reed Business Information
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 367 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft, adn Watson investigate a pair of gruesome murders at Queen Victoria's Royal Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh. The audio version is nicely done and the historical detail in the narrative is excellent.
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Another great book by Carr.
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 296 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I just finished this book and enjoyed it! I think the Sherlock Holmes derivitives like this one are fun to read. Laurie King's books are as good or maybe better than this one (same genre.)
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Helpful Score: 1
Caleb Carr reaches back into the world of opium dens and Jack the Ripper to bring a new tale of the most intriguing of all detectives, Sherlock Holmes...very interesting and lots of historical quality.
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Helpful Score: 1
Caleb Carr did a good job of writing in Doyle's style. I thought it was ok, the book really wasn't long enough, and to be honest the story was lacking in something. I thought Angel of Darkness, and the Alienist were better works by Carr.
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A Sherlock Holmes mystery written after the death of Doyle. Very true to form and a good mystery until the end. If I hadn't know better, I would have thought I was reading one of my old favorites.
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 155 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Caleb Carr writes well (The Alienist, etc.) and he does the Holmes canon a nice service in "The Italian Secretary". Set in the castle where Mary, Queen of Scots, and her ladies witnessed the murder of David Rizzio. Holmes and Watson are summoned by Mycroft Holmes to solve a brace of murders. Queen Victoria is in residence, and adding to the complications a clandestine tour of the Rizzio murder site and a mysterious bloodstain that never dries.
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 60 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Well done!
reviewed The Italian Secretary on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Very good- alot of writers have tried to follow in Conan Doyle's footsteps and Caleb Carr has come closer than most to succeeding.
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From the back of the book:"Caleb Carr's newest tale begins when Sherlock Holmes reveals an encrypted telegram he has recieved to Dr. Watson; the famous detective has been summoned by his brother , Mycroft, a royal advisor, to invesigate a pair of murders that resemble a grisly killing froom three centuries earlier."
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Almost as good as the originals. It is fun to read a new Sherlock Holmes story.
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Author Carr's first Sherlock Holmes novel. Not as sharp as Alienist but entertaining.
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From NY Times Review: Any author, who dares to assume that his readers have an attention span that exceeds fifteen or twenty seconds, has succeeded in capturing my attention no matter what the subject pursued. Caleb Carr treats English as if it is tool for the conveyance of precise information and not as if it were a bludgeon to be used to beat the reader into submission. His prose is elegant and precise, with slang terms used to emphasize characterization and to provide particular flavors and tones to conversation.

The narrator is Dr. Watson, not the familiar narrator of most of the Canonical tales, but rather this Dr. Watson is clearly the man who wrote those tales. This is not the hopeless naïf he depicted himself to be, this Watson is bright and thoughtful and a good foil for the genius of Holmes. Yet, under all, he remains the true Victorian gentleman in the best sense of that overworked phrase. He does not comprehend the hubris that constitutes true evil, the sense of self that will not recognize any will but its own. In this, he remains unable to understand Holmes who is well aware of that form of darkness of the soul.

This tale is one that Watson never meant to be published, rather it is a record of events that deserve preservation but are prejudicial to The Crown. It is also a tale of ghosts and murder, with a particularly Holmesian explanation for apparent supernatural events. Even Mycroft is unable to cope and has called Holmes and Watson to investigate murders at Holyrood House, the official residence of Her majesty in Edinburgh. High politics, historical mystery, human greed, departmental machinations and the character of Her Majesty are all combined to present a complex and satisfying new Sherlock Holmes mystery. This story revives the feeling of reading the Canon more than any pastiche I have read (3,000+ and counting), a truly remarkable feat.
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This adds a new adventure for Sherlock Holmes. This audio is well done with a great variety of voices utilized. The plot is involved but the historical detail accurate and adds dimension to the story. These audio cassettes listened to only once.
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A must read for Sherlock Holmes fans!!!
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I love Sherlock Holmes books (by Doyle) and supernatural elements in any book. So I thought this would be to my liking. But I never finished it and am now cured of reading Sherlock Holmes pastiches. This was so boring, at least up to the point I read (on their way to Scotland.)
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My first attempt at a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Fun.
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Good Sherlocke Holmes story. Not as good as Carr's Alienist and Angel of Darkness but still a good read!
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A Sherlock Holmes story, by Caleb Carr, not Arthur Conan Doyle. Carr does the atmosphere of the times very well.
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It's been a while since I have read any of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories--I know I read quite a few of them back in the the 70's. I thought Carr did a pretty decent job of portraying Holmes in the vein of Doyle and overall I did like this take on the great detective.

The story starts out when Holmes is cryptically summoned by his brother Mycroft to Scotland to look into the deaths of two men who were working on the restoration of Holyroodhouse, the ancient palace of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

Mycroft feels that the killings may be linked to a possible assassination attempt on Queen Victoria by Scottish nationalists. But when Holmes and Watson get to Holyrood, another reason for the murders is soon disclosed which is tied to the murder of David Rizzio, the titular Italian Private Secretary of Mary who was murdered by her jealous husband Darnley in the 16th century. Was Rizzio's spirit haunting Holyrood or did other factors play into the deaths?

Overall, not a bad Holmes pastiche which I would mildly recommend.
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...The slaying of David Rizzio, music master and friend to Mary, Queen of Scots, was an extraordinarily brutal and treacherous act---even for a time when brutality and treachery were the order of the day. Now, the ghosts of Holyroodhouse are being reawakened by someone with a diabolical agenda of greed, madness, and terror as Holmes and Watson set out to trap a killer who is eager to rewrite history in blood.
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I haven't read this book (too many books to read!) so I can't give my opinion about it. But I do know that Caleb Carr is the author of the international bestseller"The Alienist". The book features Sherlock Holmes and Watson who are requested by Queen Victoria to investigate the mysterious and gruesome deaths of two young men.