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Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance [Paperback]

Larry Millett
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 6 2012 Fesler-Lampert Minnesota Heritage

As the city of Minneapolis prepares for a visit from President William McKinley, someone else prepares for murder. On the day before the visit, a union activist is found hanged, naked, outside a ruined mansion. A placard around his neck reads “THE SECRET ALLIANCE HAS SPOKEN.” Who is the alliance? What does it want? How was the victim involved with the city’s corrupt mayor? And why did he possess a photograph of a prominent citizen in a compromising position? Shadwell Rafferty searches for answers, encountering bribery, corruption, union organizers, anarchists, and conspiracy, putting himself in danger. But as luck would have it, his old friends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson are on their way.

In this fourth installment of Larry Millett’s Minnesota Mystery series, Shadwell Rafferty commands center stage in a brand-new city. Packed with Millett’s signature historical and architectural detail, this book is deviously delightful.



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From Publishers Weekly

In Millet's fourth, well-researched Holmes in Minnesota adventure (after 2001's Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery), flamboyant Irish saloonkeeper Shadwell Rafferty scents an impending bloodbath when Michael O'Donnell, a young union man and mill worker, is found hanged, naked, from an oak tree in downtown Minneapolis. Around the victim's neck is a placard: "The Secret Alliance Has Spoken." Everyone assumes it is a warning from the paramilitary anti-union Secret Alliance, but no one seems to understand its significance. Rafferty seeks help from Holmes, who's in New York on a case for John Jacob Astor. The world's greatest private consulting detective doesn't enter the action until the novel's half over, though entries from Dr. Watson's journal at the start of each chapter keep the reader informed of his thoughts and movements. Turn-of-the-century Minneapolis on the eve of a visit from President McKinley comes vividly to life as one of the most corrupt cities in America, rife with evil schemes and dirty deeds. Rafferty is no deductive wizard like Holmes, but a street-smart, methodical man who plods from witness to witness to discover the truth behind O'Donnell's lynching, which, in the end, proves amazingly complex. A columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the author is obviously in love with local history. Both Holmes fans and historical mystery buffs should be pleased. Agent, Bob Barnett.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

In Millett's Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance, Shadwell Rafferty, an Irish saloon keeper and sometime detective, returns for his fourth adventure. The book opens with the gruesome lynching of Michael O'Donnell, a union activist, by a secret anti-union organization in a very corrupt Minneapolis in 1899. As various complications ensue, including the visit of President McKinley to the Twin Cities, Rafferty realizes that he is out of his depth and enlists the aid of Holmes and Watson. The novel contains structural flaws that will mar the experience even for readers who accept the absurd premise of the presidential visit. The narrative flow is periodically broken by entries from Watson's journals, written in an elliptical style that omits certain short words and refers to characters by their initials. On the other hand, Millett provides a map and 20 pages of historical and explanatory notes at the end of his book, which lend an air of verisimilitude. Still, if library purchase of only one of these is possible, the Kendrick is the better bet. Fred Gervat, Concordia Coll., Bronxville, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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WED., SEPT. 27, 1899, WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL, N.Y., 10:30 P.M.: Arrived here at 4:30 P.M. after smooth passage from Southampton aboard Campania. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointed Holmes fan June 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This can not be a true review as I have not yet been able to finish the book. I loved the 1st 3 books of this series and highly recommend them. In those books, Mr. Millett captured the "real" voice of Dr. Watson (as created by Doyle.) This book is all over the place with different points of view -- a street person who catches rats, Shadwell Rafferty, an axiliary character, the author and when we hear about Holmes it's in the awful form of journal entries with initials and ampersands that slow the reading. I intent to try again to finish the book, but think I'll find the next one at the library rather than buying it as I did the first 4, just in case Millett has truly abandoned Holmes in favor of Raffety and is tired of writing in that beloved voice that he was clever enough to re-create when he chose to.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Secret Alliance Revealed Feb. 11 2004
By jrmspnc
Format:Hardcover
The true secret alliance is between the publisher and the author, as they attempt to con and bamboozle the innocent public into thinking that this is a "Sherlock Holmes" story. It is not. Not even close. Oh, sure, we're given some badly written "diary entries" by Watson, but those are filled with Holmes and Watson pining for Minnesota. Funny how Conan Doyle missed Holmes' deep love for the Midwest.
The bulk of the novel is taken up with Millet's own creation, Shadwell Rafferty. Tragically, if this were a "Shadwell Rafferty" book, it wouldn't be all that bad. Rafferty is an interesting enough fellow, and the narrative voice used for him is light, but gets the job done. But, then, "Shadwell Rafferty and the Secret Alliance" wouldn't sell books, would it?
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1.0 out of 5 stars Millett is getting worse and worse May 13 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed "The Red Demon;" I enjoyed "The Ice Palace Murders" much less. I didn't enjoy "The Secret Alliance." I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan, not Shadwell Rafferty, and Millett seems to have become infatuated with his own character to the detriment of involving Holmes. If one is going to write Sherlock Holmes stories, then he needs to write Holmes stories, not give him a secondary role to one's own creation. Millett also seems to be increasingly enamoured with his own knowledge of Twin Cities history, and this sometimes gets in the way. We want Holmes, Mr. Millett, not Rafferty, and if you are going to give a leading role to your own creation, then don't try to allure a readership with mostly false claims about a Sherlock Holmes mystery.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Keeps Holmes too much of a secret April 25 2003
Format:Hardcover
Unlike the first three books of the series, Holmes and Watson are secondary characters here with Shadwell Rafferty taking center stage, which means this book will be a disappointment to all but those readers who've developed as much of an attachment to Rafferty as to Holmes.
In fact, you'll need to go through more than 1/3 of the book before the Baker Street duo actually arrives in Minnesota, and even then, you'll never be reading the Watsonian-style chronicle you're accustomed to. Instead, Watson's contribution is presented in the form of hastily written journal entries, which are full of abbreviations parenthetically explained by Millett in his role as "editor." The other parts of the story are filled in with standard prose---more or less from Rafferty's point of view---but not written in his voice.
This creates a somewhat disjointed narrative, and worse, an irritating rhythm, the brief, fast-paced journal material always being followed by the longer, plodding prose.
It seems rather obvious that Millett used this book to shift his focus from Holmes/Watson to Rafferty and his partner, G. W. Thomas (Thomas is shown in a way that unmistakably parallels Watson), and I wouldn't be the least surprised if Millett evolves the series into one of Rafferty's own.
I'd be sorry to see a decently written Holmes series end, but I do like Rafferty, and think Millett deserves some praise for his creation and development of the character. I've also grown to admire Millett's ability to weave fictional characters and elements of mystery into his state's history (If you've been reading this series, but skipping his historical notes, you've actually missed a bit).
Ultimately, I rate the book only three stars because it doesn't have enough Sherlock to appeal strongly to a Sherlockian, and because if it is indeed a transitional volume between a Holmes series and a Rafferty series, it feels like an awkward transition.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes and the missing character March 5 2003
By Fecklar
Format:Mass Market Paperback
How Sherlock Holmes' name can be used in the title with good faith is outside my understanding. I've read all of Millett's "Holmes" books, and this story is not only the most tedious, the most uninspiring and the least exciting, it is also the most non-Holmes mystery. We really only experience his presence toward the end of the novel, and then it is still only a shell of the Holmes we've seen from Millett in the past.
Shadwell Rafferty is a respectable character, but he is no Holmes. Please, next time just give us a real title like "Shadwell Rafferty and the Englishmen." At least that would be fair warning.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not Millett's Best Dec 20 2002
Format:Hardcover
Disappointing. Sherlock Holmes basically disappears from the book - except for the stupid diary form that is practically unreadable - and Shadwell Rafferty does not take the stage. The narration might as well be from a newspaper - no humor, no real way to identify with the characters. He has no alternate narrator to take the place of Watson, and that reduces his usually wonderful book plots to dust.
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