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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Thomas, Will: The Black Hand

  Amazon  

4 stars

The Black Hand is the fifth in Will Thomas's series of Barker & Llewelyn novels, Victorian-era mysteries with more than a passing resemblance to Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Cyrus Barker is the Sherlock figure, an enigmatic character with extraordinary training in, for example, numerous self defense techniques. Barker has his own band of "Irregulars" available to help him on cases, a network of acquaintances and allies across London, some of them less than savory types. Thomas Llewelyn is the Watson to Barker's Holmes, the character in whose voice the story is recounted. Llewelyn is twenty-something, a widower and one-time classical scholar who also served time for theft prior to his employment with Barker. He is being trained as Barker's assistant. In this outing, for example, he is sent to a Sicilian mafioso to learn how to defend himself with a dagger.

In The Black Hand Barker and Llewelyn run up against organized crime: the Mafia is attempting to establish a foothold in London, hoping to spread its influence among the Sicilian dockworkers. To combat the mob, which threatens to change the face of crime in London for good, Barker needs to patch together an alliance among London's disparate, sometimes mutually hostile groups--the Italians and Irish, with some English and French thugs thrown in.

While Barker and Llewelyn are intent in Thomas's novel on uncovering the identity of the mob boss who's sent assassins after them, The Black Hand isn't really about the mystery: what's appealing about the book is its characters and atmosphere--the cobblestoned London streets, Llewelyn's interactions with the other members of his master's entourage, and a preternaturally adept sleuth intent on combatting the city's criminal element. Readers looking to fall into a world made familiar by Conan Doyle will find much to like here.

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