The Case-Book of Holloway Holmes is book four in the Adventures of Holloway Holmes series and it is not meant to be read as a standalone. Each of the four short stories included is a companion to one of the original books, adding a nice bit of flavor and, for the first time, a glimpse into Holloway’s point of view. Where Jack is all poetry and philosophy:
The light played on his cheekbone, and I couldn’t grin anymore, and then I swallowed. Light traveled ninety-three million miles from the sun to the earth. It came all the way here to touch you, I wanted to say. And I can’t. How is that fair?
Holloway is analytical, trying to distance himself from his own attraction in an effort to cover his own insecurities, his own fear of loss and inadequacy:
Objectively, he was attractive; I knew, from reading, about symmetry, proportion, averageness, sexual dimorphism. But nobody had done a double-blind study on the curve of his calf muscle, or on the speckling of dark hair on his thighs, or the way his skin lightened on his belly, and I thought I could see freckles there.
The banter in this book is always on point, feeling genuine and real. Holloway doesn’t always get Jack’s humor, and Jack doesn’t usually get Holloway’s, but they do get each other. The chemistry, the rapport, the devotion is all there on full and sometimes painful display. Jack is a poet, baring his heart every time he looks at Holloway — the books are filled with lush, lavish, worshipful descriptions of the angle of Holloway’s jaw, the shifting grey of his eyes, the movement of his body, the sound of his voice — and it’s nice to see that Holloway, in his own way, is just as caught. By Jack’s smile, his hair, his steady, grounded personality; the fact that he gives Holloway a place to breathe; that he takes every effort to make things easier for Holloway, which so few people have ever tried to or cared to do.
At the beginning of each of the short stories is a small note to let the reader know when, chronologically, the stories take place. The Adventure of First Day shows their first rather banal meeting. The Adventure of the New Friend gives a hint to the mutual attraction as Holmes goes on (surprisingly long, for him) over Jack’s hair. The Adventure of the Lost Boy takes place between books two and three, as Jack grieves for Holloway, and Holloway tries to distract himself from his own pain.
The Return of Holloway Holmes can only be found in this collection, and it’s the best and most adorable of the four. In it, we see their first dinner as boyfriends (with a wonderful cameo by Jack’s dad and his sense of humor); their first double date as boyfriends, and Holloway’s insecurity is on full display; their first fight, which is charmingly stupid; and their first time.
This is a wonderful way to cap the trilogy … with a cliffhanger of sorts and a hint of more books to come? I hope so, I really hope so, as I’ve enjoyed reading Jack and Holloway’s adventures.