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"The game's afoot!"

  • Nov 9, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+5
An entire cottage industry has been in place for almost 100 years, churning out pastiches and supposedly "found" cases about Holmes. Some of these are very good, and some are very bad, but they all underscore the continual interest in Holmes that still exists today. A good example is the new Masterpiece Mystery series called "Sherlock", which I personally find fascinating, if a bit quirky.

This book I'm reviewing is quite interesting, in that Holmes is only a peripheral character. The main plots (there are 2 of them) each revolve around Arthur Conan Doyle, which is certainly a change. In the first plot, he and Bram Stoker (the author of "Dracula") pursue the murderer of several young women. In the second plot, a modern day "Sherlockian" attempts to find the lost volume of Doyle's journal. Actually, both plots are intertwined, and that's what makes this book so very interesting.

We see Doyle, not as a writer, but as the man who "killed" Sherlock Holmes because he was simply disgusted with the attention these stories were getting as opposed to the "serious" novels he was also writing at the time. Doyle feels the need to find this serial killer, if only to prove that he was as good at detecting clues as his creation. He dragoons his friend Stoker into helping him, and they go all over London, and elsewhere, looking for clues to the murderer. When they do, of course, and the murderer is brought to "justice", Doyle writes about it in his journal, appalling Stoker, who eventually writes to Doyle and tells him that he has destroyed that volume of the journals to protect Doyle's reputation (not to mention his own).

The modern day plot begins with the "murder" of a Sherlockian who claims to have discovered the lost journal, and of course, this journal is nowhere to be found in his hotel room. The protagonist of the modern plot is then retained by Sebastian Conan Doyle, Arthur's great-grandson, to find the journal. In this effort he is assisted by a female reporter, and they go off to England to continue the search after the US proves fruitless.

There are some very interesting action scenes, and some not so interesting scenes of cerebral detecting, but eventually the mystery of the journal is solved. It should come as no surprise to the reader that the last scene of the book takes place at the Reichenbach Falls (if you don't know the significance of this, you're probably not a reader of the Holmes Canon). The book is fun to read, particularly for someone such as myself, who has read all of the Holmes stories and novels by Doyle, and quite a few of the "unauthorized" tales also.

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More The Sherlockian reviews
review by . January 29, 2011
My regards to David Grann, whose nonfiction collection The Devil and Sherlock Holmes contains a story he wrote on the Sherlock Holmes fanatics (Sherlockians in the parlance) which provides the modern backstory of Moore's historical fiction.  The biographical backstory of Doyle's desperate attempt to kill the powerfully-popular fictional detective he created and couldn't control or kill is well known, as is the missing papers and diary volume.  See for example the biography …
review by . December 29, 2010
Graham Moore has written a novel that takes place in two different periods: the turn of the 20th century - which was the end of the Victorian era in England - and the increasingly muddled present. Loosely based on real events, this fascinating novel suggests that the era in which Sherlock Holmes and his creator flourished exists in a kind-of golden glow in our modern imagination. According to Moore the primal source of the mystery story is an innate need to know that lays deep within us all. And …
review by . April 10, 2011
I very seldom like the modern day attempts to write Sherlock Holmes stories because I find most of them to be a caricature of the great detective and not true to the man created by Conan Doyle. The main exception to that are the novels by Laurie King, largely because she focuses not on Holmes but on Mary Russell, the young wife who marries Holmes after his retirement. At first I felt that the Sherlockian might also rise above the usual attempts to recreate Doyle's genius as it focused, not on Holmes …
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #93
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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Moore's debut cleverly sets an accidental investigator on the track of an old document within the world of Sherlock Holmes buffs, though the results may please those with only a superficial knowledge of the great detective. In January 2010, Harold White, "a freelance literary researcher" who helps defend Hollywood studios against claims of copyright infringement, is inducted into the pre-eminent Sherlockian society, the Baker Street Irregulars, at their annual New York City dinner. During the festivities, scholar Alex Cale plans to present a long-lost diary penned by Arthur Conan Doyle that he's discovered, but someone strangles Cale before he can do so. Doyle's great-grandson hires White to solve the murder and trace the diary, which is missing from Cale's hotel room. Chapters alternate between White's amateur sleuthing in Europe and Doyle's own account of his search for a serial killer, aided by Dracula creator Bram Stoker. Admirers of similar efforts by Anthony Boucher, H. Paul Jeffers, and Arthur Lewis will find this falls short of their standard. (Dec.) (c)
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ISBN-10: 0446572594
ISBN-13: 978-0446572590
Author: Graham Moore
Publisher: Twelve
Date Published: December 1, 2010
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""The game's afoot!""
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