Sep 24 2013 11:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George Mann

The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George MannThe Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George Mann is a collection of short stories detailing the supernatural steampunk adventures of detective duo, Sir Maurice Newbury and Miss Veronica Hobbes in dark and dangerous Victorian London (available September 24, 2013).

This was the first of George Mann’s books that I’ve read, and what caught my eye was the steampunk theme. Even the cover reads, “Science, Adventure, Mystery.” As a lover of them all, how could I pass that up, right? But here’s where it gets interesting. It wasn’t only the aforementioned elements, this book as a whole was pure fun and completely delightful! The world of Newbury & Hobbes is intricate and well thought out, spanming across storylines to intersect with none other than one of the most famous and widely known detectives, Sherlock Holmes.

Another interesting fact is that Newbury has a female sidekick by way of Miss Veronica Hobbes. I loved this aspect, and her character rounds out Newbury and his quirkiness with her clear-headed and logical ways. We see a little of her and their relationship in this anthology, but if you want to read more of her, you can check out the entire Newbury & Hobbes series that starts with The Affinity Bridge and is ongoing, including the latest release, The Executioner’s Heart.

Mr. Mann has edited many anthologies, has a series of mystery novels, and has written a Dr. Who novel, for all of the Whovians out there. He is also slated to write an audiobook featuring Sherlock Holmes, and has contributed to the Holmes mythos in both the short and long form. His extensive biography shows his love of the craft along with the steampunk and mystery genres.

With The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes, I was able to jump right in and not feel confused or lost, never having read any of the other books. This was due in no small part to the addition of a handy-dandy timeline explaining the series stories and where they fall according to date, so I could see the natural placement and growth of the characters and follow right along. Another addition in the book that I found both helpful and fascinating was the notes at the end. I was excited to finish a story and jump to the back and read Mr. Mann’s notes about the particular story. It was like having the author there, giving me golden nuggets of information. I felt like I was in the know, receiving privileged information.

Many of them carry a certain creepiness due to their gothic settings, nighttime jaunts, and extraordinary tales remembered in darkened smoking rooms. They were each a short mystery solved by Newbury’s wit and cleverness, with the exception of the few that featured different characters, such as Holmes’s very own Dr. Watson. Newbury is a flawed character, strong, but battling his own demons. This makes him seem more real, more organic. His addiction to opium is shadowed by his personal losses. Mann’s attention to detail supplied the appropriate steampunk feel and left me with some very vivid and memorable images. For example, in “The Shattered Teacup”, he describes the most fantastic clockwork owl, one that I continue to picture in my head.

A strange brass object was moving about on the floorboards, its metal feet clacking against the smooth lacquer. It was about the size of a human head, but crafted to resemble a barn owl. Its metallic feathers shimmered in the reflected light of the gas lamps. Newbury watched it for a moment as it paced about, just like a real bird, its head twitching from side to side as it walked. After a few seconds, it turned its head as if to regard him, gears grinding as its glittering, beady eyes adjusted their focus, turning slowly to settle on his face. Then its brass wings clacked and fluttered noisily, and it began to trill again, shuffling off to hide beneath the chair.

I have to have one of these.

In another story, “The Case of the Night Crawler,” John H. Watson finds himself teaming up with Newbury and Hobbes. They're solving a local mystery involving an antagonist which also happens to be a frightening creature, “a beast of the most diabolical appearance, as if it had dragged itself from the very depth of Hades itself.” Mann goes on to set up a chilling scene, in which we see the creature for the first time. Watson says:

I became aware of a low, mechanical sound coming from the river, not unlike the clanking of heavy iron chains being dragged through a winching mechanism.

I ran to her side in time to see two thick proboscises, each about the girth of a man’s torso and covered in scores of tiny suckers like those of an octopus, come probing over the stone lip of the embankment. They squirmed and shifted as if feeling for the best possible hold, and then appeared to latch on to the uneven surface, providing purchase for the beast to heave itself out of the water.

As I watched, the monster slipped its bulk over the top of the embankment wall and raised itself to its full height–at least twenty feet tall–twisting and turning as if trying to decide which direction it should now take. I could see very little of it, other than the silhouette of its mass and the gleam of its wet carapace, catching and reflecting what thin shafts of moonlight fell on it from above.

It was moments like these, where dark monsters and mysteries collided, that I loved the most, and I’m happy to say there were plenty of these moments supplied. These stories were exciting, sometimes scary, and altogether intriguing. I can’t say that I’m usually this satisfied with every story in an anthology, but with this one, I was. The stories were short and plucky enough to hold my attention, and they stopped at just the right time–when I wanted more.

This Sweepstakes has ended.

To enter for a chance to win a trade paperback copy of  The Casebook of Newbury and Hobbes by George Mann, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2013/09/fresh-meat-the-casebook-of-newbury-and-hobbes-by-george-mann-steampunk-victorian-mystery-amber-keller beginning at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) September 24, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 10:59 p.m. ET October 8, 2013. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law.  Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


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Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter at @akeller9.

Read all posts by Amber Keller for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Christine LaRue
1. LadyAnubis
Would love to read this collection of Newbury & Hobbes stories, which sounds like a great intro to the world of this series. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! (Weirdly pleased to be the first commenter ... sometimes the late bird is the early bird.)
Tawney Mazek
3. tmaze
If I can't have the clockwork owl, I'd love to have the book.
5. ronframpton
any thing in london has to be good
stephanie willis
6. gracelina
This sounds like something I would really like to read!
Linda Knowles
8. strigoivii
That's a book my daughter and I will fight over to see who gets to read it first! ;)
Michele Carvalho
9. leohauoli
I would like to win a mystery book for a change.
Irene Menge
12. Goldenmane
This sounds like a marvelous read. I'd really love to win.
Patricia Bassett
13. pprattico
I would love to read this..I've never heard of this series, but wow, this could be the beginning of a love affair...please let me read this....
Nancy Gonzalez
14. NancyNo5
Newbury & Hobbes....my first introduction to Steampunk!!!
David Boyington
18. tardisguy
this sounds like a neat book to check out.
April Dawn
19. aprildawn
I've read the previous books but had just heard of this one yesterday. I am very interested in reading it as the full length novels tend to have too dark a tone for me and perhaps the shorts will work better because I do love these characters.
Barbara Wilmot
22. miadevlin
I've got some other George Mann books on my TBR pile so can I add another one please!
Jeffrey Malis
23. bravejam
Looking forward to reading this. Thank you for the opportunity!
24. tony parsons
I would luv 2 read this book
Brenda Tucker
26. rango3
Steampunk sounds wonderful, would love to have it.
Wayne Lecoy
34. hotrodguy
I am entering your giveaway.
It would be great to win a Paperback copy of
The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George Mann.
This looks like an interesting book.
Thank you for having this giveaway!!!!!!!!!
35. Michele McGinn
Would love to win this fantastic book!!!
kathy pease
36. klp1965
Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in :)
Susan Smoaks
39. susansmoaks
Thank you for the chance to win, this is exciting!!!
LeAnn Knott
40. knottlady
Looks like a great read for the long winter nights. Had not seen this author before. Thanks for the chance to win!!!
barbara stenby
41. wikichoco
This looks like an amazing read can't wait to read it!
Tanis Sergeew
43. Tannie
Looks like a great book! Would love the chance to read it, thank you!
Andrea Amy
44. andreaca
I really want to read this book. Looks Great! Thanks for the chance!
Lisa Hartjes
47. LisaHartjes
I love steampunk in all shapes and sizes. Interested in Jadepunk too!
48. aliceactor
Love steampunk and mysteries. This sounds like the perfect book.
49. TopDragon
I've lately gotten in to Steampunk but have always been a Sherlockian. Great combo.
William Gardner
51. myangelsman09
This genre, if you can call it that, perhaps "niche" is best, has always fascinated me. And thisone is shaping up like a splendid spectacle.
Susan Meek
54. smeek1958
Oh, my! This sounds like a perfect addition to my library!
Anne Pichette
55. Happylady123
This sounds like something I would really like. I am a big fan of Victoiran mysteries.
Kimbrell Scheunert
57. kscheunert
I would LOVE to win this book. It sounds wonderful!
Joshua Atkins
58. atkinsj
Sounds interesting. Thanks for the giveaway!
Mike zinn
60. Zinn
I've read some of Mann's work before and it's always been great. This sounds like another winner.
Jim Belcher
61. librarypops
Looks like my chance to try Steampunk and see what it is all about.
Charles Fraker
63. CharlieF
My cat's goggles are all fogged up over this book and he insists that I enter the contest. Thanks!
Laurence Coven
64. Holmes
I love supernatural storied, especially when set in a spooky Victorian background
Deanna Stillings
66. reader123
I love steampunk inventions. Count me in please.
Kristen Meston
68. webereading
I was already looking at this one so would love to win a copy!
71. Richard P. Fohrenbach
I love mysteries and sweepstakes.
Patricia Nicklas
73. pmernick
Good excerpt. I'm anxious to read the rest.
Ilene Harris
75. redhead
I hope I win, it looks like a fun book.
Michele Amos
76. amos122902
Sounds interesting! Would love to win this one.
John Dozier
77. jgdozier
love Newbury and Hobbes! would love to add the Casebook to my library!
Jane Schwarz
79. Janeschwarz
I have just gotten interested in Steampunk stories. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
Diane Stedner
80. caseykelp
I love the steampunk theme. This sounds like a good read.
Jeffrey Tretin
81. jtretin
Sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway.
Marissa Culp
84. msculp
This sounds like such an interesting book... How come I've never heard of it before? Please let me win!
Judy Woodruff
85. sweetjudyblue
Thanks for the opportunity. Would love to read.
Donna Bruno
86. dlbawiles
Steampunk, thriller & mystery all in one? I'd love to win a copy!
Pam Howell
90. phowell13
I love the cover. It screams steampunk and makes me want to read it right now. Thanks.
91. Allan Culmer
Love Steampunk. Can't wait to read this book.
Allan Culmer
92. aaculme
Love Steampunk. Can't wait to read this book.
Rosemary Krejsa
93. grandpa5
I love reading Steampunk. They are so inventive.
Heather Cowley
94. choochoo
Yeah...night crawler just freaked me out. Thanks.
Judy Hudson
96. judyhudson
Steampunk and sea monsters. I'd love to read it.
Janice Milliken
98. msjiva
Just the book to read on Halloween night!
susan beamon
99. susanbeamon
I have been getting into steampunk. It is a very interesting genre.
103. Biddie99
What an interesting looking book. I would love the chance to read it!
Joanne Mielczarski
106. jtmswim
Sounds like a great read - please count me in.
Marie-Louise Molloy
108. Wezzie
How can I solve the case with the book?
Tatiana deCarillion
109. decarillion
Wow, I love this review LOL..must...have...
Jackie Wisherd
111. JackieW
I've not read any books by this author...would love to win one.
Julie McDonough
112. onejewel
I can't wait to read this collection! Thank-you for the opportunity to win this.
Dana Mollica
115. PencilStubs
"Science, adventure, mystery" sounds great indeed. :]
Jo Mansfield
117. purplehummer200
Gregory Sparks
118. sparkplug54
Steampunk, mystery and monsters? Sounds like fun. Count me in.
Cindi Hoppes
120. CindiHoppes
What can I say? I adore Steam Punk...
Thanks, Cindi
122. YvonneJ
One look at the cover and I knew that this was the book for me! I've been wanting to try out the Steampunk genre and this sounds like it would be a great 'first' read.
Ronald Roseborough
123. Ronrose1
I've never tried steampunk. I'd like to give it a try.
Doreen Sheridan
125. dvaleris
This sounds intriguing! I'd love to read it.
Marjorie Pawley
126. marjip
While reading this anthology would be different for me, I believe that this particular one may open a new door for me to enjoy! Thank you for the opportunity.
Robin Pasholk
127. arel1
Sounds funkitudinous, and I'm overdue for a win...
Mickie Turett
131. MDT
It's great to be introduced to a new-to-me author and series.
133. Neroon
I like my mysteries set in interesting locals.
David Boyington
134. tardisguy
this sounds like a book worth checking out.
elizabeth findlay
137. eafindlay
Love everything Sherlock even if it is only Watson:0 Plus Victorian mysteries are always so creepy.
Johanna Bouchard
138. JMB89
Want this SO bad! Please pick me!!!! :D
Elizabeth Bevins
139. @BevinsElizabeth
What an amazing cover! I'd love to read this one. Thanks for the entry.
Janet Martin
140. janmaus
A terrific series so far--can't wait for more!
Annie Pott
141. onymous1
Love the cover and review - must have this book!
Sue Farrell
142. Suekey12
I'd like to try a steampunk mystery--and this book looks like a good place to start.
143. jpl123456
MANN is one of my favorite authors. Hope I win.
Cheryl English
144. RoyalCheryl
Please include me. This sounds interesting.
Pat Murphy
147. murphyp2011
Sounds like a good read. Have just finished my first steampunk book and am interested in reading more. Count me in
babs allen
148. babsji
Would love to win, I've read one other book by him in another series, and enjoyed it. Thanks!
Melissa Firpo
149. missy18214
I would love to read this book. I also have a family member who is completely into Steampunk and loves to collect all types of Steampunk books! Her and I would love to give reviews on this.
Linda Rodriguez
150. LindaRodriguez
Would love to read this introduction to the series.
Joan Woods
152. buckeye14
Haven't read any of Mr. Mann's books yet. Winning would be a great chance to do so. Don't know waht steampunk is but would love to find out.
Bonnie Karoly
154. grobiemum
I love reading stories set in Victorian London. It would be great to win a copy of this book.
Florry M. D.
155. florryalyna
I like short stories and I would be so happy to win The Casebook of Newbury & Hobbes by George Mann.
157. maryc
Love stories set in Victorian London.
Merikay Noah
158. PopcornReads
Yay - steampunk detectives - there's nothing my followers or I love more! Fingers crossed I win!
Michael Gonzales
160. mchlmlgnz
Not sure what steampunk is, but willing to sample it.
teresa sopher
161. tas58
A chance to win a book and discover a new (to me) author! Oh my!
Melissa Keith
164. melly801
You give away the best books! I've been reading about this one all over the place. Sounds brill! The Victorian era is my fav. Off to put gas in my air bus. When I come back I hope I have a e-mail telling me I won. CHEERS!
Heather Deluna
165. melikegarfield
This looks like a real fun book...and love the cover.
vickie dailey
167. kidcurry
not read to many antholoigies - but this one grabs my attention and would love to read
169. txblaize
I would love to win a copy!
cheryl stillwell
171. nylne
Thanks for the Newberry And Hobbs giveaway!
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