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Isabeau Vollhardt received her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and English Composition from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, in 1980, where she studied Novel Writing with Charles Johnson, and the Philosophy of Science Fiction with Michelle Beer. A longtime reader of Victorian era authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, she was writing The Casebook of Elisha Grey in part as an homage to Doyle and in part as a result of her readings of esoteric works on Atlantis, when she began studies at Samra University of Oriental Medicine in 1991. Graduating with a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine and receiving licensure to practice acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, she then went on to receive training in Reiki, reaching level IV (Seichem) Reiki training. Energy work and intuitive work in a variety of realms have been part of her personal and professional life since 1985 and encompasses study of Kuang Ping style taijiquan, shuilong qi gong, feng shui, clairvoyancy, Western Astrology, Native American journeywork, and Iai-Batto-Ho. She currently lives in Ashland, Oregon, where she has been in private practice since 1997, and continues to write. She has had several articles published in print and on line regarding feng shui and acupuncture, and her short story "Farewell at a Graveside" was published by Innisfree Magazine, a literary journal, in 1990.
Sally Ember, Ed.D.
on Sep. 01, 2017 :
The background of the author, Isabeau Vollhardt, shines through this series, I'm sure, as it does in this first set of three novelettes as the first of the series, "The Casebook of Elisha Grey." For example, in her author biography, she states that she: has studied the "philosophy of science fiction" and novel writing; is a long-time fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's (creator of Sherlock Holmes); has extensively researched Atlantis; is an acupuncturist and herbalist in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a Reiki Master (Level IV); and, has also studied/trained in a variety of other Asian medicine, energy work and martial arts as well as in "feng shui, clairvoyancy, Astrology, Native American journeywork, and Iai-Batto-Ho." Both of the main characters in this first in the series, Elisha Grey and Kiara Ptolmai, share many of the same talents, skills, areas of expertise and spiritual/academic involvements as the author.
Vollhardt borrows freely from the format, types of cases and reputation Holmes' stories are famous for (both Doyle's and later editions of the characters' exploits), with Grey as Holmes and Ptolmai as Watson (more in the manner of CBS' "Elementary" series than any of the previous or current versions, though, since Kiara is female), making Kiara both a medical expert (a "healer" in these stories) and a law student learning about detective work from Elisha. They are also housemates, as Watson and Holmes often are in many versions of those stories, TV shows and films.
However, setting the stories in Atlantis and its concurrent surrounds mixes science-fiction and its many time types of technology with multiple cultures, class/caste systems, economic structures, family/social network and spiritual/religious rituals and beliefs, PLUS aliens (YES!) in ways that don't always interface easily, but Vollhardt manages to juggle them all well.
Each novelette has its own case presented early on which Elisha and Kiara solve by its end with some recurring and some new characters in each of the three. We also learn more about the background and family members of both characters in ways that blend well with each story's case.
The author's research and imagination are well-used, here. The characters and settings--clothing, architecture, furnishings, food, landscapes/seascapes and transport systems--are drawn well and with excellent details, but not too many; the stories have good pacing and arcs.
One problem: Vollhardt needs a new proofreader. I found typos (word or spelling errors) in each of the novelettes that a competent proofreader should have caught.
My own background and interests intersect well with Vollhardt's, surprisingly, and i enjoyed these three novelettes enough to finish them all and review them (which I do not do, often). Although some might consider these stories "derivative," I found them to be both original enough and charming, well-written and worth reading, if you like these types of stories.
I was given this ebook in exchange for an honest review. I do not know this author, otherwise.
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
Caroline Vincent - Bits about Books
on Nov. 07, 2016 :
Meet Kiara Ptolmai, daughter of the Atlantean Ambassador to Chungko, who has come to Atlantis to complete her law studies in Atlantis' renowned Temple of Learning. Kiara has medical knowledge and is a healer, she can heal people with her hands. Her skills come from generations of women in her family before her, like her mother. But foremost here in Atlanta she's obviously an outsider, a stranger, "completely alone in a country where I knew no one."
Kiara has barely money left to find herself suitable quarters and that is why she decides to share with Elisha Grey, who is following various scientific studies. Little does Kiara know that this will bring her into situations she never dreamed of, working alongside Elisha, who is an investigative consultant. Does this remind you of the master detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr Watson? It does - Kiara has medical abilities, Elisha deductive skills - the story of the three cases is set in the magical city of Atlantis.
CASE 1: THE WINGED DANCER
If you have never been to Atlantis how could I describe the city to you? There are "shady streets of granite" and glass buildings. Hovercrafts take you anywhere and those that can afford it have "the human and mechanical means" to lead their lives unhindered by any physical disability. It's magical and charming for humans. For other creatures, life is not as grand: the multimorphs, part human, part animal, are regarded as an underclass, slaves not to be seen or mingle with humans.
When a well-known Atlantean politician asks Elisha to investigate the disappearance of a "demiavan woman" half human, half winged, Elisha knows he is has to tread carefully. It could harm the politician's reputation if it were to be known he associated with multimorphs. Elisha asks Kiara to tag along on his enquiry and before she knows it she is drawn in. Elisha is amazed by her capabilities and values her input - little does Kiara know that her contribution will be vital to solve the case.
CASE 2: THE CHEMIST'S ELIXER
It's a year later and Kiara has finished her first year of jurisprudence studies. She also is assisting Elisha Grey on most of his cases. When Letakota relates his dreams that make him feel as if someone else enters his brains, sucking away his knowledge, Elisha and Kiara doubt whether there is, in fact, a case to investigate. As it turns out they are wrong, but before they make that discovery storms are approaching Atlantis, a hurricane powerful enough to destroy anything unprotected.
After the storm, something is stolen: a special elixer to be used for pain relief. The problem is, that the drug is not yet approved for use - and taken in higher amounts, it is an euphoric drug. It is essential to retrieve the elixer as any misuse or abuse will permanently damage hope of its legitimate medical development for patients. Again Kiara finds herself in unknown territory during these investigations. Are they able to find the elixer and provide a satisfactory explanation for Letakota's loss of memory?
CASE 3: THE ODALISQUES
As the third case starts the reader learns more about both Elisha's and Kiara's upbringing. Elisha, in accordance with Atlantean traditions, was raised in a collective together with other children, away from their natural parents. Kiara's parents however rebelled and brought up their own daughter, although they had to leave Atlantis for it. Emotions run high when Kiara realizes that her mother, who originates from the Caucasus, unlike Kiara and her father, is dying.
The most complicated of the three cases in this book starts with a funeral and 13 missing young girls. It seems likely they were kidnapped as they should have been singing at the funeral, a great honour indeed. When Elisha is asked to investigate, Kiara has no idea that this case will challenge her moral beliefs profoundly. Who could predict that Kiara will discover yet another magical world unparalleled to that of Atlantis? And that in the end both Kiara and Elisha will have an enemy for life?
The first in the series of 'The Casebook of Elisha Grey' is an entertaining detective. The reference to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson is unmistakable. Elisha is as talented and focused on details as is Sherlock Holmes, be it that Elisha appreciates Kiara as his equal partner. Above all he respects Kiara's legal knowledge and her gift of healing. The story is set in the magical city of Atlantis, with its cult, it's appearance, the transport and creatures, all of which are fascinating.
Although the description of the creatures, the hovercrafts, Atlantean law and behaviour were interesting, I found it distracting and, personally, would have preferred to read more about methods of deduction in each case. However, the author expertly paints her picture of the Atlantean society, with its social standards and the multimorphs - part human part animal. That is quite an accomplishment.
(reviewed 43 days after purchase)