Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Illustrious Client by Sandra de Helen - Review and Giveaway


This review is in conjunction with a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sandra will be awarding a $25 Powell's gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Book Two of the Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson series, THE ILLUSTRIOUS CLIENT, shows us the private investigator and her sidekick sharing an office, and introduces their receptionist, Lix. They are hired to influence a young international pop star, Oceane Charles, to pry her away from her older, richer, player of a girlfriend. The cast is made up of people with various ethnicities and backgrounds, and of course the job soon includes solving a murder mystery. Along the way, Mary discovers her latent lesbianism. Set in Portland, Oregon on a superyacht, in a hospital VIP room, at Rose Festival, and other fun places.

My review:

Ms. de Helen gives us an interesting twist on the Sherlockian canon. Instead of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson solving crimes, we have Shirley Combs and Dr. Mary Watson. Instead of Victorian England, we have the present. However, one thing we do have in common with the Holmes' legacy is a good mystery.

This is the second book of the series--The Illustrious Client is loosely based on Doyle's The Adventure of the Illustious Client, with the addition of the modern setting and a look into Mary Watson's personal life and her discovery of latent lesbian tendencies.

The mystery itself, though, as in the Holmes' books, is the most important part of the book. Sandra does a good job at supplying enough suspects to make the mystery worthwhile. It's an easy book to read and I'm looking forward to reading more in this series.

Four Flowers.

Enjoy an excerpt:

After breakfast, I left my new Smart Car parked on the street, and we took Shirley’s Mercedes up Terwilliger the back way to OHSU. Typical June morning, overcast and cool, a bit misty, especially up there in the hills. People were arriving for work as we pulled into the visitors’ garage and began circling, looking for a parking space. These were the people who ran the offices, managed the clinics, worked in the pharmacy. Nurses and doctors were on different shifts, ten or twelve hours, starting at ungodly hours that gave them un-rush hours and more stress hormones shooting through their veins.

Because I visited Zaro the day before, we knew exactly where to go to find Oceane. When we arrived at the VIP room, there were no carts standing in the halls, no noise from other patients, nothing like a usual hospital experience—so long as we remained outside her door. Shirley rapped sharply. Within a couple of seconds, Oceane, opened the door just a sliver and whispered “she’s sleeping.”

“We’re here to see you, Ms. Charles.”

About the Author:
Sandra de Helen’s books as well as short stories are available at bookstores, libraries, and online. Her poetry and plays are published in several journals. Samples of her works are on her website Even though she says she isn't a "joiner," de Helen is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Oregon Writers Colony, the Golden Crown Literary Society, and International Centre for Women Playwrights. Like her at, follow her on Twitter @dehelen, and read her blog at She lives with her cat Stanton in Portland, Oregon where they both type.

Buy the book at Amazon.


  1. Interesting twist on the retelling of the subject matter. I enjoyed the review. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you so much for hosting me and my cat Stanton! I'm thrilled with the review, as I think it's spot on, MJ Thomas. Thanks for the comments, davesmsperfect, and Elise-Maria Barton. My cat is a Maine Coon, in case anyone wants to know. He never asks people what breed they are, but they almost always ask him. He's quite gracious about it. :-)

  3. What an interesting retelling of a Sherlock Holmes mystery! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Interesting story

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  5. Sounds like a great read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com


So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?