The Isolated Séance An Irregular Detective Mystery By Jeri Westerson: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Jun 24, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa & Jeri Westerson

This week we have a review of The Isolated Séance: An Irregular Detective Mystery By Jeri Westerson, the first in a brand new Sherlock Holmes related mystery series. We also have a guest post by Jeri about Spiritualism in the Sherlockian Era. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win either a signed copy of the book or ebook copy (winner’s choice), and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

The Isolated Séance: An Irregular Detective Mystery by Jeri Westerson
Review by Kathleen Costa

Elementary, Masters Tim and Ben!
It’s 1895, London, and Timothy Badger, once a Baker Street Irregular, and his good friend, Benjamin Watson, have opened their own consulting detective agency following on the same path as Tim’s mentor … Sherlock Holmes. The duo currently lack clientele and do not have the most business-like accommodations to instill potential clients with confidence in their abilities, but what they lack in funds, they gain in street smarts and determination. Holmes is not worried about the competition they might pose since there is more than enough criminality for more than one detective to make a living, so he is not adverse at recommending the services of Tim and Ben to any wayward client with a mystery to solve. Enter Thomas Brent.

The Isolated Séance Earns 5+/5 Spooky Séances … Engaging & Clever Gem!
Tim Badger is embarrassed by the shabby room in which he and his partner Benjamin Watson met their first client, but as “clothes don’t make the man,” by extension, the “room doesn’t make the business.” Thomas Brent is a personal valet, his proper attire and manner as proof, but he is visibly distressed by the tale he tells of the murder of his employer. Horace Quinn agreed to hold a private séance attended only by himself, Brent, the housemaid, housekeeper, and the Gypsy whose purpose it was to contact Quinn’s recently departed business partner Stephen Latimer. Why, was only known to Horace himself, and he was very anxious for an answer from Latimer’s spirit. Rushing the medium, snapping at the fearful maid, and cursing into the heavily incensed room only made the situation more intense. The message on the spirit board angered Quinn, then … the lamp goes out, a scream is heard, a misty apparition begins to shape, and Quinn yells. Brent rushes to light a match to illuminate the room only to reveal a gruesome scene: his employer is dead. Tim and Ben have their work cut out for them as they try their clever hands at deducing.

Sherlockian Sensation! Jeri Westerson has transported readers to the late nineteenth century with its gaslights and carriages, waistcoats and feathered hats, societal quirks and class separations spinning a tale of two young wannabes who have one thing other London detectives don’t have: Sherlock Holmes as a benefactor. Tim is slim, confident, eager to mimic his mentor and the skills he acquired, and favors a brown suit and homburg hat while Ben, also a product of the streets, is more practical, talented in the sciences, and prefers a dark gray suit with a bowler top his head. The two young men, one white and one black, varied in style and demeanor as well as experience and skill, navigate their “equal” partnership with strengths that compliment, yet, outweigh their weaknesses.

This locked-room murder mystery is quite a challenge, and their efforts are hampered by the Daily Chronicle’s dogged reporter, Miss Ellsie Moira Littleton, who tends to lean more toward the sensational than accurate reporting. But, she has value and what better resource to add to the team, even if she is a woman who may not be trustworthy! Although life is looking up due to Holmes’ interventions, the two still need to solve the crime or their client may find himself swinging high. The journey takes them in and around London, some in which they fit and others they had to feign inclusion, meeting a wide variety of people, some with good intent and one with a dagger, but they learn some interesting details about the victim’s past, his treatment of others, and his business dealings opening a complex picture leading to a surprise conclusion. All in all a couldn’t put it down experience! This is definitely nominated for best of 2023!

Jeri Westerson is a favorite author brilliant at recreating eras centuries in the past with a very descriptive writing style and banter that adds a bit of realism. Her research, even passion for olden times, is obvious as she paints well a realistic Victorian environment with its sights and smells and class and gender dynamics. The two young men were fascinating characters whose partnership can be contentious, yet clever in their theories and not without its peril. Their success is not always of their own making since Holmes makes a few appearances to steer his protégés in the right direction. Tim and Ben share the center of attention with chapter titles alerting the reader who has in the lead whether “Badger” or “Watson.” Along with several figures who illustrate London’s cultural, racial, and social diversity, the world Westerson created is one I can’t wait to revisit.

Next? I’m so in! Jeri Westerson teases, “We’ll see Badger and Watson again in their next outing as a mummy-unwrapping party goes awry when the partygoers make a grisly discovery in The Mummy of Mayfair.”

Be a Big Jeri Westerson Fan!
Award winning author of “medieval mysteries, historicals, and paranormals,” Jeri Westerson takes readers to different eras and different settings with different characters, real and unreal. Deep in the fourteenth century, there’s my personal favorite Crispin Guest Medieval Mystery series and the quirky Oswald the Thief, the Medieval Caper (99c sale). Then steeped in Tudor England, there’s Roses in the Tempest: A Tale of Tudor England (99c sale) and Courting Dragons, the first book in A King’s Fool Mystery series. She also writes the urban fantasy series Booke of the Hidden, and the Enchanter Chronicles, a gaslamp fantasy-steampunk series, as well as the Moonriser: A Werewolf mystery series. Under the name Haley Walsh, she penned the humorous Skyler Foxe LQBT mysteries.

Facebook: Jeri Westerson, Author
Website: Jeri Westerson

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Spiritualism in the Sherlockian Era
By Jeri Westerson

My new Sherlockian series, An Irregular Detective Mystery, features a former Baker Street Irregular Tim Badger who, as an adult, opens his own detective agency with his friend and colleague Ben Watson, a Black man who has a scientific mind and won’t play second fiddle. They attempt to solve cases by using Sherlock Holmes’ method with various levels of success. But working under the shadow of Holmes only gets them out-flanked and just a step behind … until they find a case Holmes won’t take. And that case is The Isolated Séance, and consequently, the title of the first book in the series.

Spiritualism, séances, and Ouija boards were all part of the Victorian era, an era that seemed to embrace its cult of death: widow’s weeds, mourning jewelry, post-mortem photography of dead family members posed with the living, and the mystic realm itself. Spiritualism got its start in America just after the Civil War, where families were desperate to communicate with their sons and fathers who perished in battle. It swiftly made its way across the pond, and soon séances and mediums who claimed to commune with the dead sprouted up.

Talking boards, or as we know them, Ouija boards, were first used in Maryland in 1886 and then manufactured in 1890 as their popularity spread. They were a parlor game, described as entertainment for the whole family, and could, when employed, “communicate with the dead, predict catastrophes, solve mysteries, even commit crimes,” according to the Library of Congress. That’s some parlor game! And once again, it traveled across the ocean to England and became just as popular there, enticing the unwary to be duped from their money.

A typical Ouija board has numbers and letters and a pointer called a planchette to spell out messages. Either the medium does it or everyone places their hands on the planchette to find the message, presumably given to the participants by spirits. People using the board may be unaware that it works, not by spirits directing your hand, but by something called the Ideomotor Effect. That is, when one is unconsciously aware of moving the planchette to spell out words. The effect can easily be cancelled by blindfolding the participants, and then, strangely enough, the messages become gibberish.

William Marriott Levitating Table With Foot

Séances became popular, and indeed, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a big believer in them. Of course, he was also a big believer in fairies and wrote the book The Coming of the Fairies along with the photographs of said fairies by those British cousins who often visited together in the village of Cottingley, took the many photos of fairies at the bottom of their garden by the beck (stream), and managed to fool all the “experts” for decades until the 1980s when the girls, now octogenarian women, confessed how they faked it. To be fair, Doyle assumed they were the manifestation of the girls’ thoughts into reality, not real fairies. I’m not sure if that’s better.

Sherlock Holmes talking to the Baker Street Irregulars in “A Study in Scarlet”

Doyle appreciated spiritualism and became an avid believer in spiritualism and psychic phenomenon in 1887, attending séances and experiments in telepathy. In the early days of Penny Dreadfuls and penny fiction — usually serialized magazine stories of lurid adventures, often with a supernatural element to them such as ghosts and vampires —Doyle was likely influenced by these and his own ventures into the supernatural to influence some of his Sherlock stories, like the glowing maw of the supernatural Hound of the Baskervilles, for instance, whose hauntings can be explained away with the logic of Sherlock Holmes.

And so I, too, have used them as a backdrop to my Sherlockian pastiche. In The Isolated Séance, a locked room mystery, Holmes himself has recommended Badger and Watson to Thomas Brent, on the run from the police for murder, though he proclaims his innocence. A séance in which he and the other members of Horace Quinn’s household were forced to attend, finds Quinn dead, stabbed through the heart. Everyone had a motive to dispose of their callous master. If the valet Thomas Brent didn’t kill him, then who did? Was it the timid house maid? The stiff housekeeper? The missing Roma medium? Or was it … the ghost of Quinn’s business partner summoned through a spirit board? Only careful deduction will solve the case … but are Badger and Watson up to the task?

Enter to win either a signed or ebook copy of The Isolated Séance by Jeri Westerson (winner’s choice) by making a comment below about: (1) your favorite Sherlock Holmes adventure (book or movie), (2) yea or nay on participating in a séance, or (3) what is one attribute you look for in a friend?or simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “isolated” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen July 1, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please be sure to include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Jeri Westerson is the author of the new Sherlockian series An Irregular Detective Mystery beginning with The Isolated Séance about a former Baker Street Irregular now a grown man and opening his own detective agency; the new King’s Fool Mysteries with Henry VIII’s real court jester solving mysteries and murder at the Tudor court beginning with Courting Dragons: and the multi-award-nominated Crispin Guest Medieval Noir series, paranormal books, standalone historicals, and an LGBTQ rom/com mystery series. See it all at

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I don’t mess around with the supernatural, so no seances for me!

    • Of course the point is, they’re fake. They’ve always been fake. That are fake today. But it does make a fun backdrop for a murder mystery!

  2. I haven’t read a lot of Sherlock’s stories.
    Always enjoy getting a new take on them.
    thanks txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. This is a fun take on them for sure, with just enough Sherlock to make it count.

  4. I have a friend who is a talented psychic medium (and her voice sounds exactly like Jeri’s), so I sometimes attend her channeling sessions. They are always fantastic.

  5. Interesting storyline. Would really like to read the book. I would not participate in a seance. I prefer a print copy.

    • I tried to get with a medium to try a seance as a non-believer…but she has some unforeseen family problem and stood me up. Ha! Unforeseen!

  6. We have a winner!


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