When I think of the character Sherlock Holmes, I think tension,
quick quips, and above all, a very logical plot. The stories flow
and move along in a way that always makes me feel as though all of
life can be explained as long as you observe those around you.
Graham Moore captures a bit of that feeling in THE SHERLOCKIAN and
spins a tale full of characters that make his first book a fun
In 1893, Sherlock Holmes dies, or at least his creator, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, writes his death to finally divest himself of a
character he has come to loathe. The public’s reaction to
Holmes’s death is more than Conan Doyle can stand --- a few
of his most fanatical readers hurl things at him on the street and
others make threats on his life --- and he becomes even more
adamant that Holmes will not return. During this period, Conan
Doyle becomes involved with a real crime investigation when a fan
sends him a letter bomb and he decides that Scotland Yard is
incapable of handling the situation correctly (or at least to his
standards). He takes it upon himself to solve the crime with the
assistance of his friend, Bram Stoker. As he points out, he created
the world’s greatest detective; he should be capable of
solving this crime just as efficiently as an invention of his
imagination. Along with Stoker, he embarks on the investigation and
records it all, good and bad, in his journal.
In 2010, scholars of Sherlock Holmes are gathering at a
conference to hear about a major discovery involving a missing
journal of Conan Doyle’s --- the contents of which have
always been a topic of interest and discussion among the group.
When the prestigious and well-known scholar who is to announce the
discovery turns up dead in a hotel room, Harold White, another
Sherlockian scholar, decides to take a page from Conan
Doyle’s Holmes character and investigate the murder.
Following clues right out of the Sherlock Holmes tales, White takes
his obsession with the imaginary detective to new heights in an
attempt to find a murderer.
Told interchangeably between 1893 and 2010, THE SHERLOCKIAN
jumps between Conan Doyle and White both trying to solve crimes
beyond their capabilities and both trying to channel Holmes to find
an end to the mysteries in front of them. I worried that I would
find the style tedious, but I found myself getting pulled into each
story simultaneously since Moore deftly parallels the action taking
place in both stories. Although there were a few times that I
couldn’t wait to get back to the other mystery, at no time
did I feel that I was missing anything.
Moore is obviously an ardent fan of both Sherlock Holmes and his
creator. He does a good job of capturing the time period in 1893,
even including some new scientific discoveries such as indoor
lighting, which adds a nice authentic touch. Even if you’re
not a fan of Conan Doyle, Moore will incite some interest in
reading a few of his stories. He doesn’t overwhelm the reader
with information about Holmes, but does include enough to make you
want to see if you own a copy of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES or A
STUDY IN SCARLET.
I always say I’m not a mystery person, and in truth
it’s not a genre I read often, but lately I’ve found
myself reading more of these novels. While I’m not ready to
say I’ve become a diehard fan, I do have to admit that the
genre is growing on me thanks to authors like Moore who are able to
capture a moment in time and bring the reader with them on the
Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on February 24, 2011