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The Collected Bartleby and James Adventures (edition 2012)

by Michael Coorlim

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2110495,208 (4.05)5
Member:cat3crazy
Title:The Collected Bartleby and James Adventures
Authors:Michael Coorlim
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012), Paperback, 108 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, reviewed, ebook

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The Collected Bartleby and James Adventures by Michael Coorlim

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A collection of short stories featuring the steampunk detectives Bartleby and James, who seem to be loosely based on Holmes and Watson. Bartleby is a savant and James is an engineer. The stories include:

- And They Called Her Spider - Spider is an acrobatic female assassin who murders her victims in front of an audience but without anybody seeing the killing blow - there is something mysterious about her. This story also features a rapid detox machine built by James. Previously reviewed in May 2012.

- Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande - Starts with James imprisoned on board a luxury American airship called the Rio Grande that is captained by a German. It was commissioned by an American industrialist named Frank Herbert - any illusion to the SF writer of the Dune series? James was suspected of killing one of the ship's engineers but Bartleby comes to his rescue. It appears that the murder was done to cover up sabotage. There are some minor typos in this story.

- On the Trail of the Scissorman - Bartleby & James take on the case of a boy whose parents have been killed by the mysterious Scissorman, who turns out to be a Frankenstein like creation.

- A Matter of Spirit - Starts with Bartleby & James interviewing, Buckley, an old Guild class mate of James, who has turned to the spirit world, much to James's disgust & scepticism. A female mystic has disappeared and Buckley has been charged with her murder. James has been appointed as Buckley's advocate by the Guild. This story is more along the lines of an Agatha Christie locked room murder - the skills of James are barely necessary. In fact, I thought that this was the weakest of the stories in this collection.

The characters of Bartleby & James are well developed through all these stories, although there are minimal physical descriptions of them. This is not unreasonable as James is the narrator & he has only passing interest in people & biology. These stories are good examples of the steampunk genre without reaching the heights of the Wild, Wild West. ( )
  Bruce_McNair | Apr 2, 2014 |
I liked the first Bartleby and James adventure, “And They Called Her Spider” (you can see my review there), well enough that I bought the entire collection.

This is one of the better steampunk series I’ve read. It has some nicely grotesque moments and strange science and technology, satisfying mysteries, well-done characterization, some nice appearances by characters from other works of literature a la The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and a pleasing sense of hidden forces operating in society with promises of a portentous future. It is also satisfyingly lacking in any attempt to load stories up with commentary on real Victorian society or metaphorically deal with issues of class and sex and race. These are entertaining stories with no real attempt to slip a message in. Continuity is also maintained from beginning to end of the collection.

“Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande” has James Wainwright suspected of murder on the maiden voyage of an airship built by an American industrialist. It’s the mandatory steampunk airship fix for the collection, entertaining in its own right, but perhaps the least interesting story here.

“On the Trail of the Scissorman” has the pair investigating the depredations of a killer who dismembers his London victims. James reveals a tender side when he adopts a Chinese girl orphaned in one of the murders.

“A Matter of Spirit” combines a locked-room mystery with spiritualism as James is commissioned by the Royal Guild of Engineers and Artificers with investigating murder charges against an old, but now estranged, friend from his apprentice days.

Coorlim actually does some innovative stuff with the e-book format. When Xin Yan, the orphan girl, speaks, the dialogue is given in Chinese characters. Highlight the words, request a translation, and, presto, you know what she said.

Coorlim’s writing is fast and slick … maybe a bit too slick and fast. I caught a few cases of anachronistic sounding language: “serial killer”, “think tank”, and “high-density low-income” that a rewrite might have eliminated. There were some notable misspellings: “Bismark” instead of “Bismarck” and “Liviticus” instead of “Leviticus”.

Those are quibbles and certainly will not keep me from reading – and buying – Coorlim’s future steampunk efforts. ( )
  RandyStafford | Apr 13, 2013 |
This was a really fun and interesting collection of short stories, which read like a great combination of steampunk and Sherlock Holmes. In a world where reanimated corpses and flying hotels make perfect sense, Bartleby and James are private detectives, Bartleby with knowledge of the human psyche, James with knowledge of engineering and science. Together they solve mysteries ranging from a murderous "Scissorsman" to sabotage in the skies. I really hope Coorlim writes more adventures for these two. ( )
  seasonsoflove | Mar 21, 2013 |
Fancy a bit of steampunk? I've got a recommendation for you! I got these stories free for review, including the first story, [And They Called Her Spider]. Automatons, reanimated corpses, flying ships, all best traditions of the genre right here. It's supposed to be for children, and they would enjoy it for sure, but I think that's mostly because it includes some great illustrations. I really loved these. ( )
  cmbohn | Feb 10, 2013 |
The Collected Bartleby and James Adventures by Michael Coorlim is a collection of four well-executed mysteries. As the reader progresses through each of these stories, they enter into the steam punk setting and style of the characters. The unfolding events reveal the depth of each character and create a world for the reader to visit, even if it is only for a little while. The author is a clearly skilled wordsmith as evidenced by the clear images brought forth in the telling.

Unfortunately, the author’s personal agenda was too evident and the tales would be a better read if objectivity allowed the reader to form their own opinions on political or religious issues. This is a fun and entertaining selection that leaves you looking forward to more adventures with these brilliant detectives. ( )
  Kyrana | Feb 1, 2013 |
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