The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait by Liese Sherwood-Fabre


The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait

The Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes Book 4

by Liese Sherwood-Fabre

Genre: Historical Mystery 

A long-buried past. A stolen portrait. The artist’s murder. Can Sherlock discover the connection between the three before he’s stopped permanently?

Sherlock can’t shake his apprehension about a family trip to Paris. His mother’s unflappable confidence vanished months ago, and her anxiety has set the whole family on edge. His greatest fears are realized when they witness the death of one of Mrs. Holmes’ former suitors.

As Sherlock seeks to unravel the reason behind the artist’s murder, he unearths a long-buried secret about his mother and survives several attempts to keep him from getting to the truth.

Can he bring a murderer to justice before he’s buried with these hidden secrets forever?

The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait is the gripping fourth case in The Early Case Files of Sherlock Holmes. If you enjoy traditional historical mysteries, you’ll love this origin series about the world’s greatest consulting detective.

The Adventure of the Purloined Portrait to learn how Sherlock’s past shaped the sleuth he became.

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What Influences my Stories?

My own experiences provide the foundation for many of my stories. My first (probably never to be published) novel was about bicultural families, something I’d experienced first-hand. My second was a thriller set in Russia (I lived there from 1994-1999), and I did find a publisher (only they folded after a year or so). While I never lived in Victorian England (I’m old, but not that old), my young Sherlock series centers on the Holmes family. As the mother of two boys, I used our own family relationships as the basis for the characters’ dynamics. One of the early reviews for the first book noted the emotions among the family members drew them in, so I guess I got that right.

What I’ve learned about craft has helped me to deepen my stories. In a critique on an early draft of my first Sherlock book, I was told, “the narrator appears to be reporting his observations instead of reacting to what’s going on.” That was an eye-opener for me. Since then, I’m constantly seeking out the emotions in the scene and conveying them to the reader. I would recommend not writing, “he felt sad,” but rather describing the emotion through nonverbal cues (downcast eyes, for example) or the thoughts in his head (“the portraits reprimanded me with their stern stares”).

With the Sherlock series, in addition to the historical period, the characters in the original stories also shape the tale. I do a lot of research about the period to ensure I get the details right. In particular, I need to ensure any information used to solve the mystery would be something known at that time. (No DNA evidence allowed.) My greatest fear is getting it wrong and receiving a scolding from a reader pointing out my mistake.

With regards to the characters, I have a little more leeway with my young Sherlock than if I were writing about the character at the age he appeared in Conan Doyle’s stories. He’s still a boy and still learning the ways of the world, so I don’t have to make him the “automaton” presented later. At the same time, I have to ensure there are hints of the man he will become. The same with Mycroft. While he only appears in a handful of stories, Conan Doyle offered a clear image of the man, and I again need to be true to the original.

Experiences gained from living, learning my craft, and drawing on the writings of others have all shaped what I write and how I write it.

What have you seen from your past or from other persons that have had an influence on your life?

Liese Sherwood-Fabre knew she was destined to write when she got an A+ in the second grade for her story about Dick, Jane, and Sally’s ruined picnic. After obtaining her PhD, she joined the federal government and worked and lived internationally for more than fifteen years. Returning to the states, she seriously pursued her writing career, garnering such awards as a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest and a Pushcart Prize nomination. A recognized Sherlockian scholar, her essays have appeared in scion newsletters, the Baker Street Journal, and Canadian Holmes. She has recently turned this passion into an origin story series on Sherlock Holmes. The first book, The Adventure of the Murdered Midwife, was the CIBA Mystery and Mayhem 2020 winner. 

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  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Brenda! Anything that you feel has influenced your life?

  2. I'm honored to be here and hope others will share about the influences in their lives.

  3. I love your Sherlock stories and esp that he is young and learning. vb