"Internet Law Book Reviews" PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard LLB LLM (London)
Penguin Books Reviewed in 2009
The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes:
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Publication Date: 05 Nov 2009
Publisher's Title Information
Sherlock Holmes is not only the most famous character in crime fiction, but arguably the most famous character in all fiction. In sixty adventures that pit his extraordinary wits and courage against foreign spies, blackmailers, cultists, petty thieves, murderers, swindlers, policemen (both stupid and clever), and his arch-nemesis Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes, together with his faithful sidekick Doctor John H. Watson, proves himself to be not only the quintessential detective but also the most engaging and entertaining company any reader could ask for. This beautiful new edition contains a new foreword by Ruth Rendell
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859 and died in 1930. Within those years was crowded a variety of activity and creative work that made him an international figure and inspired the French to give him the epithet 'the good giant'. He was the nephew of 'Dickie Doyle' the artist, and was educated at Stonyhurst, and later studied medicine at Edinburgh University, where the methods of diagnosis of one of the professors provided the idea for the methods of deduction used by Sherlock Holmes.
He set up as a doctor at Southsea and it was while waiting for patients that he began to write. His growing success as an author enabled him to give up his practice and turn his attention to other subjects. He was a passionate advocate of many causes, ranging from divorce law reform and the Channel Tunnel to the issuing of inflatable life-jackets to sailors. He also campaigned to prove the innocence of individuals, and his work on the Edjalji case was instrumental in the introduction of the Court of Criminal Appeal. He was a volunteer physician in the Boer War and later in life became a convert to spiritualism.
His greatest achievement was, of course, his creation of Sherlock Holmes, who soon attained international status and constantly distracted him from his other work; at one time Conan Doyle killed him but was obliged by public protest to restore him to life. And in his creation of Dr Watson, Holmes's companion in adventure and chronicler, Conan Doyle produced not only a perfect foil for Holmes but also one of the most famous narrators in fiction. Penguin publish all the books about the great detective, A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Valley of Fear, His Last Bow, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, The Uncollected Sherlock Holmes and The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes.
I have always felt a certain kindred with Dr Watson because of the opening lines of 'A Study in Scarlet' “In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the Army. Having completed my studies there I was duly attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as assistant surgeon. I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air, or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained'
As a Portsmouth boy who went to London to join the police service, did I also 'gravitate to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained?'
Another Portsmouth boy, (certainly no lounger), was Sir Arthur Young who attended Portsmouth Grammar School and joined Portsmouth County Borough Police. Like me he was born at Eastleigh in Hampshire. He gravitated to London and was the Commissioner of Police for the City of London from 1950 until 1971.
In November 1887, a small paperback called Beeton's Christmas Annual was published. Its contents consisted, inter alia, of a detective story entitled 'A Study in Scarlet' by one A Conan Doyle, a young doctor who ran a one-man practice in -Southsea the residential suburb of Britain's premier Naval port, Portsmouth.
The hero of the story was a tall, pipe-smoking detective called Sherlock Holmes, who had a remarkable facility for deducing important conclusions from tiny particles of evidence.
The narrator of his adventures was his friend and colleague Dr John H Watson, an ex-Army surgeon with whom he shared bachelor quarters at No 221B, Baker Street, London.
The Annual quickly sold out and nobody thought much more about Sherlock Holmes.
The author was busy writing an historical novel, as well as trying to increase his medical practice. He certainly had no idea at the time that he had just created the most famous detective partnership in all fiction.
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth” Now that's not a bad thought for any detective , real or fictional to carry about in his head.
So many of the stories are set in London, amongst the 'London Particulars' the huge, often fog bound City; it is still possible even today to trace the steps, to be fully involved with the stories such as , “A Study in Scarlet”, The Sign of Four”, and many others, in total fifty six short stories.
As for the author himself, he was a keen sportsman; he played for The Portsmouth Cricket Club, The Southsea Bowling Club and who was the Portsmouth Football Club Goalkeeper AC Smith? It is said he was a founder member of both The Cricket and Football clubs.
The writings of Conan Doyle are brilliant and if you haven't read them there is still time with this complete works. I am proud to say that Sherlock Holmes were conceived in the same place, Southsea, a place that also boasts other literary names such as Dickens, Meredith and Wells.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was also born there.
Stalked: - A True Story of Obsession
Author: Kate Brennan
ISBN: 978 0141039213
Publishers: Penguin (Fig Tree)
Publication Date: 26 Mar 2009
Publisher's Title Information
What if your lover vowed to destroy you if you left him? What if he became your tormentor? Stole your freedom? Made you feel crazy? And threatened your life?
This is not a story. This is Kate Brennan's life.
Kate was an independent, successful single woman when she met Paul, a wealthy, charismatic businessman. His polished charm and relentless wooing won him Kate's heart.
But only when they moved in together did Kate discover the serial infidelity, unbalanced character and sordid secrets of her Mr Right. When she tries to leave him, he won't let her . . . and ten years on, he is still stalking her.
Stalked is a harrowing tale of one woman's attempt to escape the dark side of love
Kate Brennan is an alias used to protect the author's real identity. She has been a freelance writer (under her real name) for more than thirty years, with a focus on women's issues. She has also taught English and Women's Studies at a number of colleges in the USA where she lives. Her stalker remains at large.
It never ceases to amaze me how writers of autobiographies are able to recall exactly what occurred and when, over a period of many years: although the most astonishing aspect is being able to recall details of conversations over those years!
Kate Brennan, an independent, successful, single American, appears to have overcome that problem by writing her autobiography “Stalked” as though it were a novel. The first part of her book starts in 1991, while she is living in the UK researching Anne Brontë, whose image she believes was manipulated by her sister Charlotte. On her return to America she came into contact with Paul, a wealthy, charismatic businessman. Curiously, from the first time she met Paul she was never entirely convinced she really wanted him more than a friend, but after further meetings she consulted her therapist on various matters including sexual and the possibility of “mistaking need for love.” Some four months later “his polished charm and relentless wooing won Kate's heart” and they became more than friends and eventually lived together. It was only then “she discovered his serial infidelity, unbalanced character and sordid secrets.” He attempted everything to demonstrate his love including buying her a car, even though she already possessed one and claimed she did not require another. Incompatibility was obvious and, eventually, after detailing her life over a period of four years (134 pages) she left him.
The second part of the book covers the period 1994 to 2004 when the stalking took place. Although he often telephoned her, he tended to employ a third person to approach her to make comments en passant. Whenever she moved to a different part of the country, he managed to trace her and discover her phone number. On occasions she found her apartment had been disturbed with items having been moved. Even when Paul married the stalking continued and, after consulting her therapist again, she was advised to complain to the police. The three detectives were extremely sympathetic and explained they proposed to arrange for Paul to be watched in such a manner that he appreciated what it would be like to be kept constantly under observation himself. Finally, in another last desperate effort to escape Paul she changed her name and travelled to the UK to continue her research and retained the name on her return home. As she concluded her story: “I've given up homes, neighbourhoods and whole cities. I've given up work, friends and possibilities of life. I've even given up my name. Some days, I almost give up hope.”
Although this book has an American flavour - such as consulting her therapist and the police taking perhaps a more active approach than in the UK - Kate Brennan tells her story in a professional manner. The book as a whole is a stark reminder of the legendry Svengali in George du Maurier's book Trilby, where he uses hypnotism to psychologically bully his victims. Although there is no question of hypnotism by Paul, his whole attitude and methodology can be compared in an attempt to control a woman. In this instance the stalked woman is sufficiently strong, over a long period of time, to overcome his obsession. But whether many other females would have the strength to do so is questionable; especially without having sufficient money to constantly move from one place to another or the courage to undertake such a journey on their own.
However, this is a book that any women - especially those in similar relationships - would find not only interesting but also helpful with numerous ideas well worth pursuing, not only to overcome the fear of stalking but also to prevent stalking in the first instance.