Book Discussion Group

The History Discussion* Group Meeting

Title To Be Discussed: The Reformation: A History

Author: Diarmaid. Mac Culloch

*{There is no fee, however, all titles selected must be purchased at Centuries & Sleuths
to be part of the Discussion Group & voice your opinion on the assigned book.}


At a time when men and women were prepared to kill—and be killed—for their faith, the Reformation tore the Western world apart. Acclaimed as the definitive account of these epochal events, Diarmaid MacCulloch’s award-winning new history brilliantly re-creates the religious battles of priests, monarchs, scholars, and politicians—from the zealous Martin Luther to the radical Loyola, from the tortured Cranmer to the ambitious Philip II.

Drawing together the many strands of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and ranging widely across Europe and the New World, MacCulloch reveals as never before how these dramatic upheavals affected everyday lives—overturning ideas of love, sex, death, and the supernatural, and shaping the modern age.

Praise for The Reformation…

"This isn’t merely ‘a history’ of the Reformation, but rather ‘the history.’" —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

"MacCulloch brings the history of the Reformation into vivid focus, providing what must surely be the best general account available." —Financial Times

"A lasting work [and] one of the most magisterial and stylishly written historical works to be published in a decade." —The Atlantic Monthly

The Reformation: A History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143035381
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - March 25th, 2005

The Mystery Discussion* Group Meeting

Title to Be Discussed: The Beautiful Blue Death

Author: Charles Lynch

*{There is no fee, however, all titles selected must be purchased at Centuries & Sleuths to be part of the Discussion Group & voice your opinion on the assigned book.}


Charles Lenox, Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, likes nothing more than to relax in his private study with a cup of tea, a roaring fire and a good book. But when his lifelong friend Lady Jane asks for his help, Lenox cannot resist the chance to unravel a mystery.

Prudence Smith, one of Jane’s former servants, is dead of an apparent suicide. But Lenox suspects something far more sinister: murder, by a rare and deadly poison. The grand house where the girl worked is full of suspects, and though Prue had dabbled with the hearts of more than a few men, Lenox is baffled by the motive for the girl’s death.

When another body turns up during the London season’s most fashionable ball, Lenox must untangle a web of loyalties and animosities. Was it jealousy that killed Prudence Smith? Or was it something else entirely? And can Lenox find the answer before the killer strikes again—this time, disturbingly close to home?

About the Author

Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. His first novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, was named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2007, one of only five mystery novels on the list. He lives in New York.

Praise for A Beautiful Blue Death…

“Vividly capturing the essence of Victorian England, Finch presents us with a unique sleuth who combines the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes with the people skills of Thomas Pitt. A sparkling achievement.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A fine specimen of the genre…. Particularly good is [Finch’s] delineation of Lenox’s cozy-but-proper relationship with Lady Jane.” —The Washington Post

“The best sort of historical mystery—clever, charming, full of period detail, and a delight to read.” —David Liss, author of The Whiskey Rebels

A Beautiful Blue Death: The First Charles Lenox Mystery (Charles Lenox Mysteries #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312386078
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Minotaur Books - July 22nd, 2008

Authors Discussion and Signing with Sherlockian & Doyle Scholars: Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower for "Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure"

Join us at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore with a discussion and then signing with two of the

foremost Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Scholars of our times, Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower. Remember, there is a $5/book charge to have any books not purchased at C&S signed by our guest authors. There is no charge to have a book purchased at C&S signed by the authors.

In 1880 a young medical student named Arthur Conan Doyle embarked upon the
“first real outstanding adventure” of his life, taking a berth as ship’s surgeon
on an Arctic whaler, the Hope. The voyage took him to unknown regions,
showered him with dramatic and unexpected experiences, and plunged him into
dangerous work on the ice floes of the Arctic seas. He tested himself, overcame
the hardships, and, as he wrote later, “came of age at 80 degrees north

Conan Doyle’s time in the Arctic provided powerful fuel for his growing
ambitions as a writer. With a ghost story set in the Arctic wastes that he wrote
shortly after his return, he established himself as a promising young writer. A
subsequent magazine article laying out possible routes to the North Pole won him
the respect of Arctic explorers. And he would call upon his shipboard
experiences many times in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, who was introduced
in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet.

Out of sight for more than a century was a diary that Conan Doyle kept
while aboard the whaler. Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure
makes this account available for the first time in a beautiful facsimile
edition that reproduces Conan Doyle’s notebook pages in his own elegant hand,
accompanied by his copious illustrations. With humor and grace, Conan Doyle
provides a vivid account of a long-vanished way of life at sea. His careful
detailing of the experience of arctic whaling is equal parts fascinating and
alarming, revealing the dark workings of the later days of the British whaling
industry. In addition to the facsimile and annotated transcript of the diary,
the volume contains photographs of the Hope, its captain, and a young
Conan Doyle on deck with its officers; two nonfiction pieces by Doyle about his
experiences; and two of his tales inspired by the journey.

To the end of his life, Conan Doyle would look back on this experience with
awe: “You stand on the very brink of the unknown,” he declared, “and every duck
that you shoot bears pebbles in its gizzard which come from a land which the
maps know not. It was a strange and fascinating chapter of my life.” Only now
can the legion of Conan Doyle fans read and enjoy that chapter.

  • Review Quotes
  • Michael Dirda, author of On Conan Doyle

    “We revere Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but he was far more than just the great storyteller of his age: There was a streak of the adventurer in Conan Doyle’s make-up, reflected in his passion for boxing matches, outdoor sports, and war zones. While still a medical student, a very young Arthur shipped out for six months on an Arctic whaler, turning twenty-one just 600 miles from the North Pole. His diary of this ‘dangerous work’ makes irresistible reading, especially when annotated by two of the most knowledgeable Conan Doyle scholars alive. As a supplement, Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower include four magnificent pieces of writing inspired by this youthful adventure: Conan Doyle’s reflections on ‘The Glamour of the Arctic’ and ‘Life on a Greenland Whaler,’ his most haunting ghost story, ‘The Captain of the Polestar,’ and one of the most dramatic of all Sherlock Holmes mysteries, ‘The Adventure of Black Peter.’ This is, in short, an important book for scholars, but also a tremendously exciting one for readers.”

    The editors are known for their expertise and scholarship on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. Daniel Stashower is an award-winning mystery novelist and author of Teller of Tales, a widely praised biography of Conan Doyle. Jon Lellenberg is the U.S. agent for the Conan Doyle estate and author of The Quest for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters.

    Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure Cover Image
    ISBN: 9780226009056
    Availability: Backordered
    Published: University of Chicago Press - October 1st, 2012

    Author Discussion & Signing with Bryan Gruley

    Come to Centuries & Sleuths to listen to Bryan Gruley talk about his latest Starved Lake Mystery, The Skeleton Box. ... And, if you buy it here he'll even sign it for you.

    Does Gus Carpenter really want to know what’s inside the skeleton box? In Anthony– and Barry Award–winning author Bryan Gruley’s gripping new novel, Gus must decide if the truth is better off dead and buried.

    Mysterious break-ins are plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. While elderly residents enjoy their weekly bingo night at St. Valentine’s Catholic Church, someone is slipping into their homes to rifle through financial and personal files. Oddly, the intruder takes nothing—yet the “Bingo Night Burglaries” leave the entire town uneasy.

    Worry turns into panic when a break-in escalates to murder. Suddenly, Gus Carpenter, editor of the Pine County Pilot, is forced to investigate the most difficult story of his life. Not only is the victim his ex-girlfriend Darlene’s mother, but her body was found in the home of Bea Carpenter—Gus’s own mother. Suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, Bea remembers little of the break-in.

    With the help of Luke Whistler, a former Detroit Free Press reporter who came north looking for slower days and some old-fashioned newspaper work, Gus sets out to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when the story leads him to a lockbox his mother has kept secret for years, Gus doesn’t realize that its contents could forever change his perception of Starvation Lake, his own family, and the value of the truth.

    About the Author

    Bryan Gruley is reporter at large for Bloomberg News and the former Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He has won the Anthony, Barry, and Strand Awards and was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel. He lives with his wife in Chicago. Visit

    The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery (Starvation Lake Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781416563662
    Availability: Hard to Find
    Published: Gallery Books - June 5th, 2012

    Starvation Lake: A Mystery (Starvation Lake Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781416563624
    Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
    Published: Gallery Books - March 3rd, 2009

    The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery (Starvation Lake Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781416563648
    Availability: Special Order
    Published: Gallery Books - August 3rd, 2010

    Author Discussion & Signing: Jeffrey Siger

    Join us at Centuries & Sleuths for Jeffrey Siger's next appearance to discuss and sign  his 4th Inspector Kaldis mystery set in modern Greece, Target: Tinos. Jeffrey has delightful stories about half the year in spends in Greece annually. Makes you jealous? Wait until you hear his stories.

    Target: Tinos (Inspector Keen Dunliffe Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781590589786
    Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
    Published: Poisoned Pen Press - June 5th, 2012

    Murder in Mykonos: An Inspector Kaldis Mystery (Inspector Keen Dunliffe Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781590586914
    Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
    Published: Poisoned Pen Press - September 30th, 2011

    Assassins of Athens (Inspector Keen Dunliffe Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781590587072
    Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
    Published: Poisoned Pen Press - January 1st, 2010

    Assassins of Athens (Inspector Keen Dunliffe Mysteries) Cover Image
    ISBN: 9781590587072
    Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
    Published: Poisoned Pen Press - January 1st, 2010

    Author Signing & Discussion Craig Cleve

    Come to Centuries & Sleuths to listen to Craig Cleve discuss his non-fiction Chicago Book, The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster.


    As rush hour came to a close on the evening
    of May 25, 1950, one of Chicago’s new fast, colorful, streamlined
    streetcars—known as a Green Hornet—slammed into a gas truck at State
    Street and 62nd Place. The Hornet’s motorman allegedly failed to heed
    the warnings of a flagger attempting to route it around a flooded
    underpass, and the trolley, packed with commuters on their way home,
    barreled into eight thousand gallons of gasoline. The gas erupted into
    flames, poured onto State Street, and quickly engulfed the Hornet,
    shooting flames two hundred and fifty feet into the air. More than half
    of the passengers escaped the inferno through the rear window, but
    thirty-three others perished, trapped in front of the streetcar’s back
    door, which failed to stay open in the ensuing panic. It was Chicago’s
    worst traffic accident ever—and the worst two-vehicle traffic accident
    in U.S. history.

    Unearthing a forgotten chapter in Chicago lore, The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster
    tells the riveting tale of this calamity. Combing through newspaper
    accounts as well as the Chicago Transit Authority’s official archives,
    Craig Cleve vividly brings to life this horrific catastrophe. Going
    beyond the historical record, he tracks down individuals who were
    present on that fateful day on State and 62nd: eyewitnesses,
    journalists, even survivors whose lives were forever changed by the
    accident. Weaving these sources together, Cleve reveals the remarkable
    combination of natural events, human error, and mechanical failure that
    led to the disaster, and this moving history recounts them—as well as
    the conflagration’s human drama—in gripping detail.

    The Green Hornet Street Car Disaster Cover Image
    ISBN: 9780875804545
    Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
    Published: Northern Illinois University Press - June 15th, 2012

    Discussion & Signing with Jeff Mudgett

    Jack The Ripper, H.H. Holmes together again for the first time?

    Listen to Jeff Mudgett talk about his new book Bloodstains.

    Herman Webster Mudgett aka H. H. Holmes
    aka My Great Great Grandfather.


    Bloodstains is the startling tale of one man’s search for the truth after inheriting the personal diaries belonging to his great-great-grandfather who he discovers was America’s first and most notorious serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett. Better known by his alias H.H. Holmes, Herman Mudgett was the mass murderer who struck terror into the nation by being the proprietor of the infamous Murder Castle and stalking the streets of Chicago during the 1893 World’s Fair. During his incarceration awaiting execution, well over a century ago, Holmes admitted killing 27 innocent victims, but the evidence the author locates indicates hundreds more likely. From his investigation, Jeff Mudgett, the direct descendant, learns that H. H. Holmes’ reign of terror was worldwide and not limited to Chicago as has been so widely believed. Based upon never before revealed historical facts, Jeff pieces together a dynamic and extraordinary puzzle, including the strong possibility that Herman Mudgett aka H.H. Holmes was also Jack the Ripper.

    Far more than a documentary, Bloodstains is precariously balanced on the very edge between non-fiction and the paranormal, as the author’s research of his evil ancestor quickly takes on a personal aspect. Jeff soon fears his efforts may have awakened the legendary ‘Holmes Curse’ of the 1890s, the one investigated and written about by most of the nation’s major publications, including The New York Times. In fact, the deeper he digs into Holmes’ devilish past, the stronger the monster’s hold on him seems to become, testing the limits of his own sanity, as well as humanity. Racked by a mysterious and never before experienced epilepsy, Jeff suffers crippling grand mal seizures whenever he disobeys the haunting voices in his head. Finally, with nowhere else to turn, Jeff is forced to make the decisions of his genetic lifetime in a life-or-death struggle in order to win the greatest prize of all: his survival. 



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