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The Casebook of Doakes and Haig
Patrick Welch
Twilight Times Books, 191 pages

The Casebook of Doakes and Haig
Patrick Welch
Patrick Welch earned a B.A. and M.A. in English from Bowling Green State University. While in school he published fiction in such markets as Riverside Quarterly and Analog. After graduating, he concentrated on writing articles for the Toledo market and abandoned short fiction until 1997 when he began to place material in such diverse small market sources as Jackhammer, Eternity (the Brendell series), Titan, Orphic Chronicle and Dark Muse. He works as a full-time free-lance advertising copywriter and part-time musician.

Patrick Welch Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Westchester Station
SF Site Review: The Body Shop
SF Site Review: The Thirteenth Magician

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steve Lazarowitz

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This is the fourth Patrick Welch book I've read, and I'm still waiting for him to repeat himself. Nothing he writes is even remotely like anything else, which is one of my favorite things about his work. He goes from the future to the present to the past, from science fiction to fantasy to horror -- and now, you can add mystery to his growing list of genres.

Admittedly, The Casebook of Doakes and Haig is not your typical book of mysteries, but anyone who knows Mr. Welch's work would already suspect that to be the case.

The setting is an alternate history in which the thirteen colonies that formed the original United States never managed to break away from England, which makes things very interesting. There are other differences as well, but I won't be revealing them here. I have to leave some surprises.

Another item that broadens the gulf between this book and your typical mystery is that one of the two partners of the Doakes and Haig Criminal Investigation team is a leprechaun, which makes things not only interesting, but a lot of fun as well. Be forewarned, Mr. Welch takes liberties with leprechaun mythos and manages to turn it on its ear. He makes no apologies for this, nor should he. Purists might object, but I found the author's take on things unusual enough to give me pause, a thing many books fail to do. I never knew where he'd go next.

The book is broken into six cases. "Golden Talons," the last case in the book, was by far my favorite. It's the only story in which Sean Doakes and his leprechaun associate travel to the colonies. I'd actually been hoping he'd take us "across the pond" and was most pleased to find he'd done just that.

Haig is a great character, his large personality more than making up for his tiny size. He has a whole host of prejudices, but he's a stand up guy, if a little one. Because several of the cases involved leprechaun folklore, he knows all sorts of things Doakes doesn't.

Sean Doakes plays the "straight man", who is almost Watsonesque, if you'll forgive me for making up a word. It is through his point of view each story is told, a good choice on the part of the author, particularly because Haig likes to keep his partner in the dark a lot.

Because the stories are short, a synopsis of each that was more than a line or two would give away too much, so instead, I thought I'd just mention a few interesting tidbits that don't give away too much.

In addition to investigating crimes, Doakes and Haig produce a recipe sweetener they sell from a small shop. It is their only product and the source of the family's wealth, though as the book opens, much of that wealth has been spent, since the public has grown more health conscious.

Another item of interest is a character who appears in a number of the stories, Inspector Amberbee of New Scotland Yard. I can never quite get a handle on him. His involvement often seems coincidental, but I'm never really quite sure where it ends and begins. The fact that he really doesn't like the protagonists, but he doesn't seem to be a "bad guy" adds an interesting dynamic to the book.

Readers of alternate histories, fantasy-mysteries or well-written short stories will enjoy The Casebook of Doakes and Haig. Just don't expect it to resemble anything else Patrick Welch has written, a rule of thumb when dealing with this particular author.

Copyright © 2004 Steve Lazarowitz

Steve Lazarowitz is a speculative fiction writer, an editor, a father, a husband, an animal lover and a heck of a nice guy (not necessarily in that order). Steve lives in Moonah, Tasmania with his family and four giant spiny leaf insects. You can check out his work at http://www.dream-sequence.net.


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