Book Review – The Sherlockian

A huge fan of Sherlock Holmes from an early age, I felt like I’d won some amazing prize when I spotted this book lying around the registration area at this year’s Bouchercon.  I actually looked around, ready to ask someone if I could take it.  This was my first writer’s conference, so I had no idea people would spread advanced reader copies of books around…SCORE!  😀

Anyway, I was all psyched to read a new book surrounding Sherlock Holmes.  However, this book doesn’t really involve Holmes, aside from his being mentioned by his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.

The book is written by Graham Moore, a 28 year-old graduate of Columbia, and leads you through two mysteries: one involving Arthur Conan Doyle (before he was knighted) while on hiatus from writing the Holmes stories, and the other set in modern times, involving a member of a prestigious Sherlock Holmes fan club.  The book hops back and forth between the two eras in alternating chapters.  Doyle’s mystery somehow ties in with the modern mystery, so that may be why Graham wrote it in this fashion.

I don’t normally like reading books that jump around like this because I feel that, just as I’m starting to get into the story of one character, I’m JOLTED to another character/setting/whathaveyou.  So I did found it hard to get into this book at first.  As I got toward the end of the book, and the action and suspense got more dramatic, I found that I had to read each person’s story separately.  I finished up with the modern mystery, before going back and finishing the one involving Doyle . . . it would’ve been too frustrating to me to continue reading it as Moore wrote it.

All in all, I enjoyed the book.  Both stories came to fulfilling climaxes and any loose ends were tied up quite neatly.  There was just enough description of emotions and places to make me feel like I was with these characters, but not so much that I had to remember what I’d been reading about.  There were also enough plot twists that I only “guessed” one or two pieces of the mysteries.

Another point in the book’s favor is that Graham wove enough facts in that I felt I learned something about Sir Arthur (I LOVE it when I can learn from reading fiction!), but also made a point at the end to let us know which parts were true or not.  I like that he kept that to the end, so that it felt like all was really true – ‘course, if you’ve read biographies on Sir Arthur, chances are you’d have known that anyway.

According to the publisher’s note on the advanced copy, it was due to be printed and in bookstores in December of last year.  If you’re a fan of Holmes, or even just a good mystery, I’d recommend checking it out.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it when you do.

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