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The Affair of the Mysterious Letter
By Alexis Hall

Discussed November/December 2020

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Dramatis personae:

  • Shaharazad Haas, consulting sorceress (Holmes analog)
  • John Wyndham, dispensing alchemist (Watson analog)
  • Mrs. Hive, landlady at 221b Martyrs Walk (Mrs. Hudson analog)
  • Eirene Viola, client & former lover of Shaharazad Haas (Irene Adler analog)
  • Cora Beck, fiancé of Eirene Viola
  • Joy-in-Sorrow Standfast, Augur Extraordinary (fanatical police officer)
  • Gabriel Lawson, Second Augur (more reasonable police officer)


  • How “queer” is the cast of The Affair of the Mysterious Letter?
  • If you’re a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, do you feel that Alexis Hall has captured the feeling and narrative style of the “Sherlock Holmes” stories?
  • How well did Hall “translate” Doyle’s characters for the F&SF environment?
  • How do you feel about Hall’s version of Holmes/Watson and their relationship?
  • If someone asked you to describe what “type” of story it is, what would you tell them? 
  • Besides the obvious “Sherlock Holmes” references, Hall has incorporated a number of “Easter Eggs” and references from other classic literature sources.  Which ones did you see?  How successful do you think Hall was at working them into the storyline?  Did they add or detract from your enjoyment of the novel?
  • What’s your opinion about the depiction of time travel and alternate realities in the novel?  How do they relate to the mystery in the story?
  • What’s your impression about the events taking place in Carcosa (Chapters 48 – 51)?
  • If your experience was via audiobook, what was the experience like for you?
  • Have you read any of Hall’s other works?  If so, how do they compare to The Affair of the Mysterious Letter?

Other works by Alexis Hall:
“Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator”

  • Iron and Velvet
  • Shadows and Dreams
  • Fire and Water
  • Smoke and Ashes
  • Time and Tide (“coming soon”)

Weird West Steampunk stories

  • Prosperity
  • Liberty and Other Stories
  • There Will Be Phlogiston

About a dozen queer romances (which he has sometimes referred to as “kissing books”)

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