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With THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR (UK|US|ANZ) released so close to the birthdate of Arthur Conan Doyle (that’s today!), and its two Victorian sleuths owing much to Sherlock Holmes (after all, which fictional detectives do not?) we asked the author, Lilith Saintcrow, to tell us a bit about Doyle’s influence on her work.

THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR is the second of Bannon and Clare’s adventures and the follow up to THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR. Listen to the audiobooks here.

the cover of steampunk novel The Red Plague Affair, showing Bannon and Clare

Bannon and Clare – ready for action.

For a long time, I didn’t even know Sherlock Holmes existed. Instead, I loved another boy.

His name was Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown.

I had two battered, ancient Encyclopedia Brown collections when I was a kid, probably from some garage sale or another. Most of the stories have receded into the mist that is my bad memory for everything before I was 20, but I remember a particular story where Leroy figured out an ambulance was the getaway vehicle because the stupid criminals put someone in it feet-first.

I was completely enchanted by the idea that a regular kid could, just by observation, change the course of events. This seemed a superpower anyone was capable of acquiring, with enough stubborn persistence and attention to detail. I mean, flight and superstrength are pretty badass, but I think most kids start suspecting neither are truly available outside their imaginations pretty early on.

I am not sure when I first began to suspect that my dear Leroy was an homage to someone else. It was probably at the point that Young Sherlock Holmes blazed into my consciousness, and I immediately marched into the library and started looking for “based on the stories of.”

Imagine my surprise upon meeting Holmes and Watson, two middle-aged men decidedly less attractive to the twelve-year-old girl I was. Arthur Conan Doyle’s prose style gave me a little difficulty, but much less than Shakespeare and only a little more than Louisa May Alcott. Plus, there were murders. Chases. A network of street kids bringing information. Cocaine. Music. Horses.

Irene Adler. Read the rest of this entry »

Bannon and Clare: Listen to the Audiobooks

The sorceress Emma Bannon and the deductive genius Archibald Clare will return for a second steampunk adventure this month in THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR (UK | US | ANZ),  released next week on 21st May!

With the RED PLAGUE audiobook coming out on the same day, and the audiobook of THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR (UK | US | ANZ) – Bannon and Clare’s first adventure – also coming to the UK and Australia on the 21st, we thought we’d share a treat with you to whet your appetite for some Victorian mystery-solving, magic-wielding action!

For newcomers to the series who want to stay spoiler-free, here’s the prologue to THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR . . .
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/91538374″ params=”auto_play=false&player_type=artwork&color=ff7700″ width=”300″ height=”300″ iframe=”false” /]

And for everyone who’s read IRON WYRM, here’s the first chapter of THE RED PLAGUE AFFAIR. Enjoy!
[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/91538834″ params=”auto_play=false&player_type=artwork&color=ff7700″ width=”300″ height=”300″ iframe=”false” /]

The Iron Wyrm Affair: Can you Deduce like a Detective?

Bannon and Clare stand ready to solve another mystery!THE IRON WYRM AFFAIR (UK | US | ANZ) is a steampunk fantasy about what happens when all the geniuses of Londinium are targeted by a vicious killer. The sorceress Emma Bannon and one of the last remaining such geniuses, Archibald Clare, must struggle to solve the mystery and stay alive!

Archie’s unnatural deductive faculties are why he’s in danger – and of course Emma’s not too bad at solving mysteries herself! Can you deduce like a Victorian detective? Read on to try your skills . . .

Question: Although those on a mission for the crown have little time for frivolous parlour games, there’s no harm in keeping one’s deductive faculties sharp. Bannon and Clare have decided to test each other over the dessert course . . . Emma tells Archibald about an American gentleman and his son who were involved in an industrial accident in one of Londinium’s clockhorse factories. The man was killed, but the son lived and was rushed to St. Thomas’s Hospital. The head surgeon glanced at the boy and confessed, “I cannot operate upon this patient – he is my son!” How could this be?

Highlight the space below to reveal the answer:
Archie tells Emma that the doctor was the young gentleman’s mother.

Question: Archibald tells Emma about a Grecquean island where those from the North side of the island always lie, and those from the South always tell the truth.  Archie was sampling the cuisine at a local restaurant when three men approached him. The first man told Archie that himself and his compatriots were from the North. The second man said ‘only one of us is from the South’. The third man said nothing at all. Archibald asks Emma which of the men were from the North.

Highlight the space below to reveal the answer:
Emma knows that only the second man was from the South, but scolds Archie for the frankly preposterous nature of his riddle.

Question: Emma regales Archibald with the details of her visit to a charming country estate while investigating its owner for crimes against Queen Victrix. Although the owner was not at home, as Emma was returning to her carriage a vicious guard dog lunged at her. Although it could not reach her as its chain was attached to a tree, it followed her every move, growling horribly, and had access to both of her carriage doors. Although her bodyguard Mikal was keen to shoot it for threatening his mistress, Emma sternly told him to put away his pistol as she could see a way back to her carriage without the use of force or magic. What did she do?

Highlight the space below to reveal the answer:
Archibald guessed correctly that Emma led the dog around its tree until the chain had been shortened enough that she could reach her carriage.

Question: Inspired by Emma’s canine riddle, Archie tells her about the time a hired hansom was conveying him through the streets of Londinium. The hansom came to a street painted entirely black. The gas lamps were broken, no doubt by flashboys, and neither Archie nor the coachman were carrying lanterns. Nevertheless, the coachman managed to swerve in time to avoid the entirely black dog that ran out on the road in front of them. How could he have seen the dog in time?

Highlight the space below to reveal the answer:
Happily for the dog, Emma concludes, it was daylight.

 How did you do? Share some of your favourite riddles with us in the comments . . .

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