Little Betty & Veronica: The Buried Treasure Mystery

This comes from Betty and Veronica Double Digest No. 96. The story is called Little Betty and Veronica & the Buried Treasure, but I’m not sure why. It isn’t really about them, but about Archie. Why didn’t they just call it Little Archie & the Buried Treasure?

For more Archie Comics, go to Archie Andrews: A Real Foul Ball 

For more Betty & Veronica, go to Betty and Veronica: Stranger Than Fiction

For more treasure hunts, go to How to Wash a Cat

For more mystery reviews, go to Emilie and the Sky World

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The Madwoman Upstairs

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The Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel by Catherine Lowell

Samantha Whipple hates the Brontë sisters.

As the last remaining relative, she has found herself hounded by journalists, bombarded at every turn, and told time and time again about their genius and to further study their writings.

The only item that makes Brontë bearable is that the novels give her a connection to her deceased father.

Samantha has just started at Oxford University and hopes that this will be a way to move out of the past and into a new future. However, things do not go according to plan. Her tutorial involves a very attractive, yet unattainable, professor who is intent on having her study every bit of literature she hates and criticizing everything from her thoughts, to her writing style, and even down to her use of commas.

Really?

She is also being harassed by a writer for the school newspaper, finding her name in print every day; along with her father’s arch nemesis, Sir John Booker.

And to top it off, Brontë books that were believed to be burnt in the fire of her childhood home are mysterious reappearing in her room; along with a dead friend being revived. As Samantha finds herself not only on an extensive treasure hunt to discover her inheritance, but studying and reading Brontë more than ever before; will she find all the answers she is looking for? Will she be able to understand her father’s cryptic messages? Will this cause her to grow to love the Brontë work instead of abhorring it?

Thoughts After Reading:

This has been one of the hardest reviews I have had to write as I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand I enjoy the irony of the main character hating Brontë, yet at the same time reenacting the same features she complains about. For instance falling in love with her professor, James Orville; who is not only tall, broody, and arrogant; having the temperament of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre; but also as unattainable as Mr. Rochester.

Although in this case the issue keeping them apart is not a mad wife, but the college’s code of conduct between student-teacher relationships. Or when Samantha is stranded in her room from a big storm and starts breaking down similar to the ill governess in Villette.

Hmm…

At one point in the novel, Samantha finds her journey barred by a huge storm and having to reside in the house of her father’s most hated person, Sir John; which is reminiscent of how the narrator in Wuthering Heights finds himself forced to remain with the inhospitable Heathcliff.

The character of Samantha is also very unusual. On one hand we have a very intelligent, sarcastic, logical, and thoughtful person. However, the pendulum swings back with her also being neurotic, anxious, awkward, impulsive, and fanciful.

Not that it isn’t realistic to have a character express so many traits, but for the reader it feels inconsistent, contradictory, and a bit scattered.

Samantha’s love interest Professor Orville is lacking depth within his own character, along with his relationship to Samantha being weak and having no chemistry. Professor Orville is shrouded in mystery as to his history and background; with the reader never really seeing as to who he is, but just him as the Professor or Brontë-like hero. Part of this has to do with the fact that he is a Professor and distances himself Samantha, not revealing much of his personal life, so the quick wrap up the author provides in the end when the two have married seems strange and too quickly sewn up.

After all, most of what we see in the novel between them is Samantha’s fantasies and crush on her professor, hardly anything in the novel showed that he seriously reciprocated.

On the question of the Brontë sisters the book gives quite a lot of information into their individual backgrounds and each of their novels; along with some very thought provoking analysis. Out of all the Brontës, the author spends the most time on the youngest, Anne; with a new viewpoint and direction.

However, as the book so truthfully points out, the novels we read become a part of us. The characters and stories become an active part of our reality, memories, and sometimes even family. So when a character or story is taken in a different direction than the one that you as a reader have perpetuated it can be hard to accept. There are a few ideas surrounding the Brontë‘s leading men, that depending on your own view and relationship with the books, you will find either inspired or idiotic.

The writer has a good voice and the ability to capture one’s attention and maintain it strongly through out the pages; but because I found it lacking in other areas I would have to give this book two and a half out of fives stars.

For more mysteries involving a treasure hunt, go to The Sign of the Four

For more mysteries that take place at Oxford University, go to Decked

For more mysteries that take place at a college, go to Murder at Oklahoma

For more mysteries involving a relationship with a Professor, go to Good, Clean, Murder

For more stand alone mysteries, go to Whistling in the Dark

The Sign of the Four

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The Sign of the Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

**Contains Spoilers**

So the second book of Sherlock Holmes has us go on as equally an interesting adventure.

We begin the case with a Miss Morstan coming to Sherlock to get assistance with a problem. And immediately Watson finds himself attracted to her.

“In an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents, I have never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. “

Miss Mostan comes on the recommendation of her employer, a Mrs. Cecil Forrester, who Sherlock Holmes helped before. Her father was an officer in an Indian regiment, and sent her to a boarding school in Edinburgh after her mother died. She stayed there until she was seventeen, when her father took 12 months leave and planned to come home. He telegraphed her in London than he was safe and to meet him at the Langham Hotel. When she arrived she couldn’t find him, and the manager told her he was there but left.

Since then no one has seen him since and the police have been unable to discover anything.

Luggage was left at the hotel with nothing missing. Her father had only one friend lived in London, Major Sholto, but he didn’t even know that Captain Morstan had returned to the country. That was December 3rd, 1878, ten years ago.

But then six years ago, on May 4th, 1882; as advertisement appeared in the newspaper asking after a Miss Mary Morton, saying it would be to her advantage to answer.

When she did s small cardboard box came to her containing a large pearl, but no note.

Since then every year on the same day, May 4th, a similar pearl arrives. She took them to an expert and they were pronounced rare and valuable.

But this morning she received something different; a note that troubles her.

London, S.W.

July 7

Be at the third pillar from the left outside the Lyceum Theatre to-night at seven o’clock. If you are distrustful bring two friends. You are a wronged woman and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.

I wonder…

Sherlock agrees to take the case, planning for Dr. Watson and him to accompany Miss Morstan on her meeting.

Holmes looks at the note, studying it and leaves to find the answer to what pricked his mind.

While he is gone Watson can’t get Miss Morston out of his mind, but tries to move past it, Who could want an ex-army surgeon, with a weak leg, and weaker bank account?

Holmes returns much later than planned with some news. Major Sholto died on April 28, 1882. Within a week of his death a pearl arrives for Miss Morston and follows every year? A letter talks about a wrong that has happened to her. What other than her father’s disappearance could be the wrong? And why presents, unless Sholto’s heir knows something about the whole thing.

Miss Morston comes in the carriage, and they start away. She can’t believe Major Sholto would do anything, as he was her father’s best friend. However, she has a new clue to throw in the mix. A piece of paper found with his belongings that no one could quite figure out what it was. She gives it to Sherlock.

Sherlock examines it and  sees that it is from India, part of a blueprint for a large building, with a + and “3.37 from left” written in red ink. In the left hand corner, a symbol that looks like four crosses in a line with the following

++++ The sign of the four- Jonathan Small, Mahomet Singh, Abdullah Khan, Dost Akbar.

I wonder…

Sherlock can’t see how it relates now, but asks Mary to hold onto it.

They head to Lyceum Theater where the crowds are thick. Before they even reached the destination point, they are approached  by a coachman. They are invited into a coach and travel to an unknown location, a house that appears to be the only one on the block that is occupied. They are met by an Indian servant, who lets them know that the sahib is waiting.

The sahib is Mr. Thaddeus Sholto, Major Sholto’s son. The house on the outside may look worn and neglected, but in this room are riches. After they introduce themselves Thaddeus asks Watson to examine his heart, as he worries about it.

He reveals that Miss Morston father is dead, that he died of a heart attack. (But then why wasn’t the body found?)

He wants them to help settle this matter, to be a united front against his brother Bartholomew. He then tells his story. Major John Sholto was a part of the Indian army but retired 11 years ago and moved to Pondicherry Lodge in Norwood. Thaddeus and Bartholomew lived in luxury with many Indian servants. However all was not happy. Their father was afraid to go out alone and hired ex-prize fighters as body guards. He avoided men with wooden legs, and shot at one once; who was later revealed to be a harmless tradesman. In 1882 he received a shocking letter, that nearly caused him to faint. He suffered previous medical conditions and by April was reaching the end.

Major Sholto then shared his guilt at never helping Miss Morston and asks his boys to give Mary her share of the Agra treasure, but not until he died. Morston and Sholto had come into a large treasure and brought it over from India to England.  When Morston came from India he meet with Sholto and wanted his share of the treasure. Sholto and him argued about what was fair, with Morston becoming angry and his weak heart gave out, making him fall, crack his head, and die. Major Sholto then told his son to make sure that Mary received the father’s share and that the treasure was hidden…

After asking them to promise that, Major Sholto started to yell and scream “keep him out”. The two brothers turn to look and see a bearded man with a wooden leg. They try to get him, but he escapes. The next morning the whole house was searched and one message left behind.

The sign of the four

Their father died and then the two brothers dug everywhere searching for the treasure. Bartholomew didn’t want to part with the pearls, but Thaddeus sent them as they was his father’s last wish. The two argued and Thaddeus left to set up his own home. Yesterday, Thaddeus received word that the treasure was  found, and valued at half a million.

The group sets out to talk with Bartholomew, Watson a little saddened ay he state of affairs as to how could a millionairess ever want him?

When the reach Pondicherry, they find a strange state of affairs. The servants will let Thaddeus in but no others. To make things even stranger, Bartholomew hasn’t been out of his room all day.  And even though he is in there and expecting them, there is no light in the window. Strange.

Thaddeus goes in while the rest wait outside. Mary is frightened and grabs Watson’s hand.

Inner squeal!

They don’t wait long before Thaddeus comes running back out. He knows something is wrong but not what, they all rush indoors and up the stairs to his room.

He and Watson break down the door and see Bartholomew with a hideous smile fixed upon his face. Bartholomew is dead.

Above him there was an opening large enough for a person to pass through. A piece of rope on the ground and a brown, close-grained stick, with a stone head like a hammer. Beside it a note

The sign of the four

By his ear was a long dark thorn stuck into the skin. A poisoned one according to Sherlock. Watson grows grim at them ever figuring things out.

“On the contrary,’ [Sherlock Holmes] answered, ‘it clears every instant. I only require a few missing links to have an entirely connected case.”

Meanwhile, Thaddeus has discovered that the treasure is gone. Yesterday they lowered it into the room through the ceiling and locked it up at ten last night. What happened since then? Holmes sends Thaddeus  to tell the police of the death and assures him he will figure this out.

Holmes deduces it was the one-legged man aided by another, a sailor; and they dropped one of them in through the hole in the ceiling.

The police arrive and suspect Thaddeus of killing his brother, just what Thaddeus feared. Sherlock urges the police to follow his lead. The first man was a Jonathan Small (one of the original four). He’s small, poorly educated,  with a wooden leg. The other, too little info yet to determine who he is.

Watson takes Mary home and then heads to a home near the water’s edge to pick up Toby, a dog with the best nose for hunting down criminals.

When he returns he discovers that not only has Thaddeus been arrested, but the gatekeeper, housekeeper, and Indian servant.

The two examine the house closer, seeing the path that the one-legged man took. They also find his thorns dropped in his hurry to leave. They then set Toby upon it and head out after him.

Watson is still mystified as to what happened but Sherlock sets him right. Two officers were in command of convicts and learned an important secret about where the treasure was buried. Jonathan Small drew a map, putting his name and his associates in the corner. The officers took the treasure, one bringing it over from India. Jonathan Small couldn’t get it himself as he was a convict and in jail. What had upset Major Sholto, was that he had received a frightening letter, a letter about Small’s escape. He then tries to protect himself from the one-legged man. Small tried to get the treasure, but his presence interrupted Shlolto from revealing it to the sons. He searched the whole house but found nothing.

Smalls kept watch and when the brothers finally found the treasure he and his associate broke in and killed Bartholomew, escaping with the treasure. Toby takes Watson and Sherlock down to a wharf, where they discover that the one-legged man and his associate have gone in the water.

The two head home while Holmes employs his street urchins to root out some info. He does figure out more about the assistant. He turns out to be a cannibal from the island Andamand.

Watson heads over to Mary to give her an update and stays for most of the day. When he  returns home nothing has come to pass.  That night Sherlock dresses up as a sailor and heads out to the river to try and find some answers.

It was a long day with no answers as Watson waits for Holmes’ return. Athelney Jones, the inspector joins them and soon an old man arrives, but it turns out to be Holmes himself.

That night they head out to the ship Aurora and capture Smalls. He reveals all that Sherlock Holmes surmised is true, even Tonga, the islander, having killed Bartholomew.

Watson brings the box to Mary and tells her of the good news, The two break it open but find it empty.

Where is the treasure?!

But this gives Watson the courage to tell Mary how he feels. And she responds the same.

Yay!

They return to Smalls but he won’t reveal a thing about where the treasure is, other than he has hid it where none shall find it. They never discover its whereabouts, Smalls goes off to jail, and another case closed for Sherlock.

It ends with Watson sharing how he is engaged to Mary, soon to be married. So ends this story, but many more are right around the corner.

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. I thoughts it had great action, drama, mystery, everything you could want.

I highly recommend it for any Sherlock fan.

And I’m pretty sure that this story is what The Great Mouse Detective writers took a lot from when creating their story. The peg-leg, dressing up as a sailor, Toby, missing father, etc.And I love that film so it definitely already set the foundation for how much I would enjoy this.

But whether you are  Sherlock or Basil fan, you should definitely take a look over this book. It was fantastic.

For more Sherlock Holmes, go to A Study in Scarlet

For more classic mystery novels, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more mysteries with a treasure hunt, go to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

For more mysteries revolving around a disappearance, go to Emilie & the Hollow World

For more mysteries involving poisonings, go to Catering to Nobody

Bake Until Golden

Bake Until Golden

Bake Until Golden (The Potluck Catering Club #3) by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson

In the third installment of the Potluck caterers the women are flying high from their win; being interviewed everywhere and treated like royalty.

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They also are excited about the improvements being made to the church and the anniversary that they will be catering. But as life always does, they find that things do not go as planned.

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Jack has been doing well since he had his surgery, but when Goldie returns from a TV interview, she finds him dead. Poor Goldie is heartbroken at the loss, and even more dismayed when she discovers a birth certificate stating that Jack has a son with someone else.

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Donna has decided that she needs to leave the past in the past and dumps Wade, dating David exclusively. When David shares that his friend Bobbie is coming to town, Donna is excited to meet him; that is until it turns out to be a her and David’s ex-fiancé.

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Lizzie, the high school librarian, is working with  group of kids after school to create a play for the anniversary of Founder’s Day. As they start researching the event and the minister; they also have the story of the hidden gold in mind. They start looking into it and trying their hand at solving the mystery.

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Meanwhile, Donna’s mother Doreen, who left her when she was four and returned last year, has been drinking again and caused a scene knocking Evangeline over. Evangeline goes to talk to her later and tries and convince her to go to rehab. Doreen starts yelling at first but calms down and says she will think about the idea.

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The next day Doreen is found dead

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And Evangeline is accused of the murder,

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Donna being the one anxious to strap her in chains.

Not-Good

When she is arrested and arraigned for the murder, Evangeline finds herself praying for help and proof of her innocence.

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Vonnie is horrified at what happened with the reveal of Bobbie and that such a horrible girl is after David. She tries to be there for Donna, as ever since Doreen’s leaving, Vonnnie has been a surrogate mother. But then one day Vonnie is going to market to pick up one item, and leaves her dog in the car. When she returns she finds him missing!

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Later Vonnie receives a ransom note that is actually a trap to kidnap her. Why would anyone want the dog or Vonnie?

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Lisa Leann and Henry are still having issues, despite his proposal to renew their vows.

I felt whatever about it.

When their son-in-law is injured in Egypt, their daughter goes out of the country leaving her baby with Lisa and Henry. They care for their grand baby and try to help with everything that is going on. Then a person breaks into Lisa’s bridal shop.

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When the potluckers start looking into why, they discover that the shop is connected to the old legend of the missing gold.

WHAT!

WHAT!

Donna and the crew find themselves in the middle of a triple mystery. Who really killed Doreen? Who is trying to kidnap Vonnie? And where is the gold? And how is this all connected?

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Thoughts After Reading:

For me this is the weakest of the series all because of one person, Donna.

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I really liked Donna in the other books, but in this one I found her annoying. She was horrible to Evangeline, acting like a five-year-old girl instead of a grown woman.

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I also thought it was incredibly stupid how she instantly wanted to arrest her. Seriously, Donna why would she do it? No motive at all. She has nothing to gain from Doreen’s death and there is nothing that Doreen could do to make Evangeline be in a terrible rage; it made no sense at all.

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The gold was a little thrown out of left field, but I like the characters and enjoy reading about them.

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For more on Potluck Catering Club, go to A Taste of Fame

For more catering mysteries, go to Catering to Nobody

For more Christian books, go to The Oath

For more book reviews, go to C is for Corpse