Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Case of the Cosmological Killer, by Stephanie Osborn

I have reviewed all four of the books contained in the Omnibus separately on Amazon; they are paired. 1&2 should be read together, as should 3&4. Get the Omnibus, it's REALLY the way to go.

Setup: Brilliant scientist Dr. Skye Chadwick is working with brilliant scientist ideas and technology, and has achieved a breakthrough: a portal to alternate realities. And there are a LOT of alternate realities. There are so many that they need some way to make sure that they are tracking the same world consistently; so, they need a test subject.
ENTER: Sherlock Holmes. They discover that in one particular world, Holmes exists as a real person, and has near-identical existence with the character found in literature. Since many of the team are fans, they decide to use him as the focus of the viewing.
And, ALMOST by accident, bring him to our world. It's only ALMOST by accident because Dr. Chadwick is a former cop, and the scene they view is Reichenbach Falls, and as Moriarty attempts to murder Holmes, Chadwick's training takes over, and she leaps through the portal, and pulls Holmes into our timeline.
And then, the adventures start. You need to read the first part of the Omnibus to get the details, but here is the punchline: Holmes and Chadwick first become investigatory partners, then form affection, fall in love, and get married.
No, not just like that; there are shootings and stabbings and beatings, as well. Mostly, though, there is conflict going on emotionally with Holmes, as he has to adapt to a world where a woman is certainly his equal, legally, socially, and in some fields, intellectually.
The fact that she is drop dead gorgeous doesn't really enter into the picture.
Nor does the fact that she finds him beautiful as well.
It's really a purely spiritual thing. Really! Stop laughing, guys!
Okay, so SOME of it is physical.

But mostly, it's traumatic. Skye has to deal with the fact that she has interjected herself into her science, and Sherlock has to deal with the worst case of culture shock since the Cargo Cults of New Guinea were formed. They adapt, but it's not easy. And that's, sort of, what you MUST know to get into books 3 & 4.

Book Three, The Rendlesham Incident, begins with Plot One :strange things, zipping through the skies in England; in Plot Two, back in Colorado, Sky and Sherlock are developing a routine of married life.
And then it turns out not to be TWO plot lines, but THREE: An old geezer is found dead just off the road near the UFO sighting.
With burns....

Okay, here's the old plot: old geezer sees the UFO, gets sunburn from the glowing exhaust (Close Encounters of the Sun Screen Kind) and orbital mind control lasers, exploding spaceships, girls in metal bikinis...

HA! NONE of that happens. NONE! I am SO not going to tell you what the relationship is between the UFO sighting and the dead geezer, but if you think Stephanie Osborn is going to fall into THAT trap, you haven't been paying attention.

However, we DO have two very distinct investigations going on, and both of them rely on both of the investigators: Sherlock Holmes, and his new wife, Skye Chadwick-Holmes. The geezer death is primarily the investigative property of Mr. Holmes; the UFO, and the opening of another link between alternate worlds, is primarily that of Mrs. Chadwick-Holmes. However, SHE makes contributions to HIS work, and HE makes contributions to HERS. And they both get stressed out, and they have a little marital opportunity-for-discord because of hard work, but if you are expecting soap opera whining, you won't get it here. Instead, you get mature and responsible adults, who are both capable of understanding the demands placed on their partner, and have the ability to talk. They are, fortunately, neither one of them codgers.

There is the famous Rule 34, but there is also another Internet Rule: no matter what you do, a young man somewhere is going to hate it, and make a video in their mom's basement about why. I saw one of those written about Volume 2 (and found it repulsive).  The young man in the basement may, in fact, be quite the authority on how mythical figures REALLY behave when transported from the past into the future (because that happens a lot); but as for me, I think there are possibilities. For example, the development of a new social skill set may seem to be appropriate. But, what do WE know?

Well, we (and by we, I mean Stephanie Osborn) know how to write a great revenge scene. Holmes and Skye are visiting a Holmes museum in London, curated by one Mr. Soames. Holmes is struck by how true to life it seems, particularly since it is (in this timeline) something that never existed, apart from the fiction of Doyle.
Almost absent-mindedly, he repositions the Persian slipper containing his pipe tobacco to its' correct place on the mantle, only to be lambasted by Mr. Soames. 'How can we keep things in their proper place if every ignoramus insists on moving things about! ' (umm, not an exact quote)
Quite properly, in the book, Soames is put in his place, not only about this, but about the Sherlock-Skye marriage. And, thus chastised, he repents.
This is revenge of which I approve: write your critics into a book, and let them have what's coming to them!

And the revenge goes further; one of the benefits of writing about alternate timelines is that you don't have to rely on (ahem) Single Case Methodology (he said, showing off); you can have a Control Group (sort of).

The scientific work done by Dr. Chadwick was discontinued in the primary timeline, since there was no effective way to safeguard the technology, and it could have easily resulted in the destruction of the universe. However, in a closely parallel timeline, the work was not discontinued. And, in fact, there are intense and increasing disturbances that may result in collapse, perhaps of all possible existences.

In THAT reality (call it 'Risk World'), Dr. Skye Chadwick and Sherlock Holmes are witness to a catastrophic destruction of the equipment, which leaves the two of them as the only members of the team left to solve the problem; and pulling the plug is not an answer. They reach out to their counterparts in the main point-of-view timeline for help.

With two sets of identical characters, the potential for confusion is huge. Fortunately, in the primary timeline, the two main characters have fallen in love and married, so that they refer to each other as Skye and Sherlock, while in Risk World, the relationship is chillier, and they call each other Holmes and Chadwick.

And thus the author can credibly demonstrate the effect on two people when Holmes remains emotionally constipated. In Risk World, he has adhered to his canon rejection of emotionality and refusal to get involved with others. He remains cold and distant on the surface, and spurned  the emotional contact with 'his' doctor Chadwick. He thereby becomes even less of a human than he was when in residence at Baker Street; at least there, he could express some emotion, even if only anger, disgust, and a snarky sense of humor.

And that sets us up for a grand finale of, literally, cosmic proportions. Will Risk World Holmes become human before the worlds end? Tune in tomorrow...

This was a blisteringly fast read for me. I inhale words at all times, but this, and the preceding story, kept my attention to the point that I missed eating and NEARLY had an accident of the sort associated more with toddlers than adults.  Your mileage may vary, but I encourage you to consider setting a timer, or have a Designated Non-Reader, someone who can drag you away at appropriate times for tea and sleep, as needed.

Peace be on your household.

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