The last of the 2009 backlog

After a month and a half of moaning and groaning, I’ve finally reached the end of my backlog — the last four books I read in 2009, for a grand total of 244.

I realize the problem now– reading the 244 books is easy; reviewing every one of them is another matter. I’d be happy if I can blog half as fast as I read, but try as I might, it’s a tall order. I can multi-task reading, but blogging about them takes my full attention, and I try to squeeze it in when I have time to spare, a luxury I haven’t had much of since the year started. I’m definitely not complaining; blogging has its own rewards, and I’ve enjoyed a whole year of blogging about the books I’ve read; but I think I’ll have to strategize better to achieve my next goal: to catch up on blogging my January and February readings by March.

Here are the last four books for 2009 (and a big sigh of relief from me!), all of them comic in nature. As you may have noticed, I steered clear of text-heavy books towards the end of the year, and this is the last batch of them:  Chas Addams’ Half Baked Cookbook by Charles Addams; Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya (leftover from the October 24-hour readathon); and the first two volumes of the detective Conan manga, Case Closed 1 and 2 by Gosho Aoyama.

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The Patient’s Eyes by David Pirie

Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite detectives (alongside Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigators’ Jupiter Jones and Nancy Drew). I was a big Sherlock Holmes fan when I was a kid, and I loved The Hound of the Baskervilles, which is why I got this book, because I thought it would be really interesting.

I wasn’t disappointed.

The first in the Murder Rooms trilogy, The Patient’s Eyes details how the young Arthur Conan Doyle was bored in med school and was all but ready to drop out when he met Dr. Joseph Bell (supposedly the real-life basis for Sherlock Holmes), a surgeon/teacher (moonlighting as the Edinburgh police’s secret weapon!) who took him on as his assistant (mostly to disprove his cynicism, making Doyle the actual Watson).

After a tragic loss (something which I feel would be explained in the succeeding books), Doyle moves away from Edinburgh to start over, shakily establishing the foundations of his medical practice. And then he meets a new patient, Heather Grace, who is suffering from an eye complaint, psychological trauma, and has a mystery stalker.

Fascinated by his new patient, he decides to call on Dr. Bell to help him solve the mystery terrorizing Heather Grace, before it’s too late… Who is trying to scare Heather Grace to death? The uncle with a massive collection of exotica (also her trustee)? The perpetually cheerful (or so it seems) almost-fiance? Or the unscrupulous doctor attracted to Heather Grace, who is smarting from Doyle’s “piracy” of his patient?

The novel skims over elements from the Sherlock Holmes stories, such as the Speckled Band, The Solitary Cyclist, and Wisteria Lodge. It’s a murder mystery that twists and turns with a lot of surprises, and really, at the end of the novel I was totally scared out of my wits that I shoved the book under the blanket because the cover was freaking me out.

Now, if only I can find copies of the two other books in the series…

My copy: trade paperback, from the Powerbooks bargain bin

My rating: 4/5 stars