Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz to celebrate the book birthday of Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab. Happy Book birthday, Columbkill Noonan and a big thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.
“Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?”
First off, I just want to congratulate Columbkill Noonan for having the best author name to appear on my blog so far – isn’t it fabulous! I have no idea if that is her real name or just a pen name but I really hope it is the former.
Now to the book, which might just be one of the maddest but most fun books I have ever read. I mean, the plot is literally insane and I wonder if she jotted it down on the back of a cocktail napkin after a heavy night on the creme de menthe but if you can get your head around that and run with the sheer lunacy of the idea, this is a really entertaining read, particularly for anyone who is interested in myths and legends and Egyptology.
The hero of the book is Sherlock Holmes-wannabe, Barnabas Tew who aspires to be a private detective as astute and famous as his literary hero. He has the clothing, including deerstalker, he has the Victorian setting, he has his Watson in the shape of his erstwhile sidekick, Wilfred. Sadly, he is lacking Holmes’ sharp intellect (although he himself is oblivious to this deficiency) which has led to a lack os success in his cases so far. In fact, an alarming number of his clients have ended up dead. He is ever hopeful that his luck will change though, and his adventures in the Egyptian Land of the Dead may prove the turning point.
I absolutely loved the characters in this book, the author has drawn them brilliantly. The Victorian setting, dress and speech are pitched perfectly for authenticity (with a few minor colloquial slip-ups, possibly but I found them forgivable in the grand scheme of the book) and they were great fun. Barnabas has grand ideas which sadly fall short and it is really his assistant, Wilfred, who is the brains of the outfit, though neither of them seem aware of this and the author does a fabulous job of fully drawing the humour from this relationship. It reminded me of Hong Kong Phooey and his cat, Spot, who was the real superhero of every show (I apologise to Columbkill, whom I am sure did not spend the 1970’s watching British children’s Saturday morning cartoons and anyone not old enough to remember this show – it’s worth a catch up online if you’ve never seen it!)
The pair get into loads of scrapes and ridiculous situations, partly due to the ludicrous setting of the book and partly due to Barnabas’ often intemperate outbursts and the book has a lot of laugh out loud moments. It wasn’t perfect. There were parts that could have done with more editing to avoid superfluous phrases and repetition that slowed the pacing and there were so many twists and turns that by the end I had started to get confused to the point where I was in danger of no longer caring who had committed the crime. However, my overall experience was a good one, the book was original, funny and engaging with a really novel concept and fun characters. Columbkill is tackling Norse mythology next and I am intrigued to see where she goes with that.
Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Missing Scarab is out now and you can buy a copy here.The next book in the series, Barnabas Tew and The Case of the Nine Worlds will be published on 4 September and is available for pre-order here.
About the Author
Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.
In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens.
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