Sunday, October 16, 2016


The faces of Sherlock Holmes: So many, so varied. Some so bewildering.
I’m specifically thinking about Mr. Holmes’ countless incarnations on film.
When you look over the list of actors who’ve taken on the task of playing Sherlock—and if you’ve somehow evaded forming your own opinions of The Great Detective—then you might believe the character to be wildly elastic.
There’s a vast range between Basil Rathbone and Benedict Cumberbatch; bigger still between Roger Moore (James Bond, The Saint) and Tom Baker (Rasputin…Doctor Who). 
Even the guy who played Max Headroom got several turns as Holmes early during the previous decade.
The old black-and-white Rathbone films simply don’t speak to me. Not a smidge.

Rathbone’s Holmes is rigid, distant, and terribly off-putting to me. 
The Basil-era Watson comes across as a daft old uncle slipping into senility. You can’t fathom the two men actually being able to spend a simple evening together in their Baker Street digs, let alone having a constructive partnership as crime fighters.
Surely, that Watson would drive that Holmes to murder.
Throughout much of the 1960s and 1970s, it seems to be there was more very bad miscasting: venerable but dull old British actors (Peter Cushing, John Neville) and some bewildering choices including George C. Scott and “I Dream of Jeanie’s” Larry Hagman (it’s true, look it up!).

Things started to improve, at least from my perspective, in the late 1970s, with Nicol Williamson’s haunted take on a cocaine-addicted Great Detective in Nicholas Meyer’s “The Seven-Percent Solution.” 
Soon after came Christopher Plummer’s rather dashing Holmes in the under-rated “Murder by Decree.”
In both those iterations, Watson finally got an I.Q. up-grade courtesy of Robert Duval and James Mason.
In 1984, my definitive Holmes at last arrived in the person of Jeremy Brett. 
Particularly in the early going of his sublime array of Granada adaptations, Brett for me embodies the Holmes that captivated me on the page.
Once Mr. Brett passed, it took over a decade of this new century to give me another Holmes in whom I could invest in and take to my heart in the person of Benedict Cumberbatch.
We all have our favorite or preferred takes on Holmes and Watson.

I know some actually prefer Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Lee Miller to Cumberbatch. I don’t get it, but to each his own, right?
When it came time to put my spin on Sherlock Holmes for my new novel, The Red-Handed League, I was aiming for a synthesis of the younger Jeremy Brett and the current Cumberbatch versions of Holmes.
Given the chance, how would you portray Holmes and Watson? Who would you be seeing in your mind’s eye as you tried to restore them to life on the page?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


“I am lost without my Boswell.”
—Sherlock Holmes
The Red-Handed League, my new thriller about Sherlock Holmes, debuts this week.
Hewing to a Doylean naming strategy, this little essay might be called, The Matter of the Murdered Biographer. It could also be titled, The Case of Fearful Symmetry.
Here’s what I mean:
My first work published by Betimes Books was the literary thriller Permanent Fatal Error. It centers on a presumed-dead cult novelist ala J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon whose would-be biographers mysteriously die.
The Red-Handed League is a present-day prequel to Conan Doyle’s first-published Sherlock Holmes tale, A Study in Scarlet.
My new book spins on inappropriate relationships between students and instructors at an upscale private school. It also re-imagines and melds aspects of several noted Holmes tales, including “The Red-Headed League” and “The Master Blackmailer.”
What goes around comes around, they say.
Or as Holmes might observe, “Everything comes in circles. The old wheel turns and the same spoke comes up. It’s all been done before, and will be again.”
There’s a creepy nexus between my first and second books for Betimes, you see.
While we were working on cover designs and last touches for The Red-Handed League, my publisher ran across an article about a man obsessed with writing the definitive biography of a famous author, only to die violently under the most mysterious of circumstances.
The excellent article by David Grann detailing this real-life mystery was published in The New Yorker in December 2004.
“That’s pretty far back in the rearview mirror, Ms. Colt,” you might point out.
And I’d respond, “Yes. Yes, it is.”
And yet?
There is fearful symmetry in this. Deliciously lingering mystery, too.
The Betimes Books publisher and her author were struck by the very strange overlap between the mysterious death of a deceased novelist’s would-be biographer (the set up for an elevator pitch for Permanent Fatal Error) and the fact our second novel together centers on Sherlock Holmes.
You see, the real-life biographer who met his mysterious death in his home surrounded by Holmesian books and collectibles was a revered Sherlock scholar named Richard Lancelyn Green.
His intended biographical subject was (of course) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Apparent cause of death: (Clears throat) Self-garroting with a bit of string and a spoon.
Pray, go off now and read Mr. Grann’s superb piece on this mysterious affair. I’ll wait here, staring out the window, surely brooding, but sans pipe or violin.

Welcome back.
Chilling, no?
What was I doing as Christmas crept up in 2004? How did I miss this when it was fresh?
At any rate, like all good 21st Century armchair detectives, I went straight to Googling this matter to see if any official investigator or real-life Holmes had advanced the ball.
In the intervening twelve or more years, surely someone shed definitive light on what happened to this unfortunate biographer, yes?
But beyond the mystery of the mysterious American voice on the answering machine turning out to be a factory-loaded feature, there’s no more new to report, alas.
Matters stand now as they did in December 2004.
You can believe this was a case of murder, or you can dismiss it as an elaborate suicide staged by a man given to extreme dramatics (very Holmes-like, that last).
Permanent Fatal Error, my thriller about murdered biographers, opens with a quote declaring, “Any biography uneasily shelters an autobiography within.”
Maybe too, a biography can shelter mortal risk for the would-be Boswell… Perhaps even the prospect of perishing before publishing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Hi's been a while.

My second novel is forthcoming from Betimes Books in just a few days. (It can be pre-ordered now, here.)

More on all this, soon, but for now, here's the cover, and the publisher's pitch:

Holmes and Watson.

The centuries-old names continue to thrill crime and mystery lovers around the world. Now the mysterious and bestselling author Hadley Colt breathes sexy new life into the timeless legend of The Great Detective.

We are witness to a young Sherlock Holmes, brilliant, arrogant and at the start of what promises to be a stellar career as the world's first and only consulting detective.

Enter Jona Watson, a fetching young forensics student recruited to go undercover in a tony private school rocked by scandalous affairs between teachers and students. A primary suspect Jona is directed to investigate: the mysterious and slightly odd, newly hired chemistry teacher named Mr. William Sherlock Holmes, a charismatic enigma.

But Ms. Watson also harbours her own wrenching secrets.

Erotic, fast-paced, yet brilliantly true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters, this is a tour-de-force exploration and subtle reinvention of the beloved sleuth.

THE RED-HANDED LEAGUE is a gripping new Sherlock Holmes tale at last revealing the dark and intensely private mystery that secretly shaped and which drives fiction's most famous detective.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


In the beginning, there are the words.

Every novelist secretly dreams of a film option, but those are rarely in the cards.

Book trailers are too often a dime-a-dozen.

Rarely, but sometimes, the stars align and you get something like a cinematic treatment—however short it might be in form—of your authentic vision.

I LOVE my book trailer secured for me by my publisher, Betimes Books.

Joose TV and the brilliant Eddie McCaffrey fully delivered a brilliant book trailer for PERMANENT FATAL ERROR.

In the early going, I was asked to provide a kind of script for the thing. What I delivered ran long—more of a cinematic short film than a proper teaser/trailer.

Eddie sculpted that down, picked up an element or two from elsewhere in the book. The result is the perfect set-up of my novel and distillation of its dark themes. We see the mysterious Everett Hyde, author long believed dead, pounding out a wine-stoked warning email to a prying academic.

The music kicks it into overdrive; the noir setting and lighting? Sublime…

Eddie’s available if you wish to explore the option of your own book trailer with him. His official site is here.

For my part, I just sit back and continue to savor his vision of my novel.

Check it out here:

PERMANENT FATAL ERROR ordering information:

Friday, July 4, 2014


Throughout July, we continue to offer the chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card to the reader who can penetrate the enigma wrapped in mystery that is Hadley Colt.

In other words, pierce the veil of my penname and correctly identify who the real, already-known author of PERMANENT FATAL ERROR is and win a prize (and literary bragging rights).

Clues have been sprinkled around the Twitter-verse for several weeks now, but the contest to reveal my true identity continues.

Here are your clues:

Guess the famous author Clue 1 What is the common symbol for the Roman God "Mars"? ?

Guess the famous author who wrote this Clue 2 Hadley Colt is an Edgar finalist... ?

Guess the famous author Clue 3 What is my 1st published work? (Hint: The devil's in the details...) ?

Guess the famous author Clue 4 Colt is a name in a novel published under my real byline. ?

Guess the famous author who wrote this Clue 5 Do the math: 31313 ?

Email your best guesses and contact information to

If there is more than one correct guess, a drawing will be held to determine the winner at the end of July.

The prize is two-fold: A $100 Amazon gift certificate, and a signed copy of PERMANENT FATAL ERROR in its rarest form: autographed by Ms. Colt, and, well, by me

Happy guessing. Clues will be fair, but authors often have a much harder time hiding behind an assumed prose style, so if you want to go at this the old-fashioned way, you can order PFE here:

Friday, June 13, 2014


A bit like Everett Hyde, the central figure of PERMANENT FATAL ERROR, its author Hadley Colt is an enigma wrapped in mystery.

There actually is no “Hadley Colt,” of course. That name is a pseudonym for the real me, who has published a number of books under a very different name.

My rational for adopting a penname is explained here.

Having revealed that fact fairly early in the game, it can now be stated it was never intended Hadley’s true identity would be some secret for the ages.


We are officially announcing a contest to rip the mask off Ms. Colt.

Starting Monday and continuing over the course of the week, a daily clue will be posted to Hadley Colt’s official Twitter account @HadleyColt, to @betimesbooks and to Facebook.

Email your best guesses and contact information to

If there is more than one correct guess, a drawing will be held to determine the winner at the end of July.

The prize is two-fold: A $100 Amazon gift certificate, and a signed copy of PERMANENT FATAL ERROR in its rarest form: autographed by Ms. Colt, and, well, by me

Happy guessing. Clues will be fair, but authors often have a much harder time hiding behind an assumed prose style, so if you want to go at this the old-fashioned way, you can order PFE here: