Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? by Paul Cornell (Books 2016, 7

Some books take weeks or even months to read. Others slip down in just a few days. This was the latter kind.

Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series is part of a thriving subgenre now. He and Ben Aaronovitch started out at a similar time, I guess, and they’re friends, so I don’t know if they came up with the idea together, or what. Maybe it was just steam-train time. But London cops who deal with the magical, occult side of the city’s problems are very much of today.1

This latest volume picks up not long after The Severed Streets finished, and our characters are in some dark places personally and professionally. But then the ghost of Sherlock Holmes is found murdered at the Holmes museum, and a serial killer starts murdering people in ways inspired by the Holmes stories. The game is afoot, obviously, and our heroes must take part.

This is really, really, good, and highly recommended. Though if you haven’t read them yet, start at the beginning with London Falling.


  1. Though I can’t help but wonder if Charlie Stross started it all. His Laundry Files series is about secret agents with occult dealings, rather than police, but there are obvious similarities. []

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (Books 2015, 10)

The pages, how they turn. I’m sure I’ve said that before of JK Rowling’s work, but not in public, it seems. Amusing to note that The Silkworm was my number 10 last year.

Plenty of Robin in this one, and it’s probably the best of the three. Certainly better than the last one.

Strangest thing about it is the music. By which I mean: the title is taken from a song by Blue Öyster Cult, and quotes from them precede most of the chapters (some chapters have titles, and those are the titles of BÖC songs).

Now, I had no idea that Patti Smith wrote some lyrics for BÖC, but apparently she did1

Still on a musical note, in passing one of the ancillary characters roadies for a band who are called Death Cult. Since JK Rowling is about the same age as me, and since she obviously pays attention to music, I would expect her to know that The Cult used to be known as Death Cult, and before that as Southern Death Cult. But perhaps you had to read the music papers in the 80s to know about that kind of stuff.2

Anyway, the Death Cult here have nothing to do with either the famous Cult, nor the Blue Öyster one.

The ending is a tad unsatisfying, as it leaves a number of things unresolved — which is fine, as there will no doubt be more books — and doesn’t really give us enough time post-denoument to decompress with the characters.

Still, highly recommended, as long as you’re not put off by gruesome scenes.


  1. we went to see her at the Roundhouse the other day, incidentally, on the 40th anniversary tour for Horses; but I digress. []
  2. And it turns out not to be quite as I remember, as according to Wikipedia, the only connection between SDC and Death Cult/The Cult is Ian Astbury. []

Weird Law-Enforcement Things

There were three slightly weird law-enforcement- or intelligence-related stories in the news today:

  • Two jailed in Northern Ireland over police officer’s murder.

    I heard the policeman’s wife on the radio. She spoke calmly about how getting the murderers off the streets was good for the community, and positively about the people who had bravely given evidence (at least one had to be given protection).

    The odd, disturbing, and intelligence-community-related thing is that army intelligence had a tracker device in the car of one of the murderers, and at first they refused to reveal its details to the police undertaking the investigation. The police had to threaten to get a warrant. Then when they did provide the data, it turned out to have sections mysteriously missing. You have to sympathise with the PSNI here: they had both the Continuity IRA bampots and the army working against them.

  • ‘Dark Arts’ involved in MI6 officer’s death.

    So what, this GCHQ codebreaker on secondment locked himself inside a bag using magic? I’m surprised that they’re even considering that it might not be murder here; or at least that someone has covered something up. More importantly, there’s the fact that the DNA evidence got messed up by a typo. Surely there’s got to be a better way?

  • Police officers deleted records of crime gangs

    And then there’s this business about the corruption in the Met. Evidence allegedly deleted on the orders of crime gangs? That’s some scary stuff. I’m pretty sure that when the Serious Organised Crime Agency was set up, it was meant to be anti-organised crime.

No real connection between these, I just heard about them all today.