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Monday, November 9, 2009

A New Mystery a la Sherlock Holmes

Title: Along Came A Fifer
Author: R. Michael Phillips
Published by Asylett Press, July 2009
ISBN 1-934337-62-5
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by L. Boyer for Carlisle Sentinel, Oct 22, 2009

'Fifer' a mystery inspired by Holmes
Pennsylvania author R. Michael Phillips captures everything a mystery needs in his first novel.

Never judge a book by its cover — an age-old saying that applies perfectly to R. Michael Phillips’ Along Came a Fifer. Upon first glance, one would see a painting of a young boy in military uniform with a small fife. It looks like this is going to be some historical book, probably laden with boring narrative about some Revolutionary War battle.

Au contraire, mon ami. The cover actually shows Manet’s “The Fifer,” a painting that plays a crucial role in the novel’s plot. In fact, “Along Came a Fifer” is an exciting mystery set in modern-day London and Paris. But the historical feel isn’t far off.

Written with the likes of the great Sherlock Holmes in mind, “Along Came a Fifer” oozes Victorian-era detective crime-solving. The East London Adventurers Club works for the Royal Family, solving the crown’s most delicate matters quickly and quietly.

The most recent addition to the club, Ernie Bisquets, is a former pick-pocket selected personally for the job by Patterson Coats, leader of ELAC. Coats believes Bisquets’ unique insight into London’s underground criminal culture will serve the ELAC well, but it’s up to Bisquet to decide if he wants a part in the group’s sometimes life-threatening hobby.

Along Came a Fifer is actually the first in a series about the East London Adventurers Club. In it, Bisquets and his gang must unravel the mystery of a botched art robbery, which leads to murder and more. The next book, due out in fall 2010, is titled, Rook, Rhyme and Sinker.

Phillips, a Pennsylvania resident, does a fine job with his first mystery novel. The characters are relatable and dynamic. The novel has everything a mystery needs — humor, deception, unrequited love and, well, a good old-fashioned mystery.

Along Came a Fifer is available online on Amazon, B&N, Fictionwise or from your favorite bookshop.

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