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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

The Sherlockian, told in alternating chapters, begins with Arthur Conan Doyle's frustration with the character he created in Sherlock Holmes; he wanted to be remembered for more than his detective's fictional adventures and resented the fact that many people believed Holmes to be real.  Killing off Holmes aroused genuine anger among his readers, and as we know, he eventually brought his character back to life.

In the current day chapters, Sherlockian Harold White is inducted into The Baker Street Irregulars, and finds himself trying to solve the murder of one of its members and recover a missing diary of Conan Doyle's.

Moving back and forth, we find Doyle and his friend Bram Stoker pursuing a serial killer in London, and Harold White pursuing a murderer and the diary.  I usually like parallel stories, but there is a skill in moving between alternating chapters that seemed lacking here.  Each little segment left me a bit frustrated.

Truthfully, neither story truly pulled me in.  I liked Bram Stoker's character much more than Doyle's and found Harold White annoying as often as not.      

Initially, I found the book amusing and thought I'd like it a lot.  As I continued reading, however, I found myself bothered by several things (including chapter transitions, or lack thereof).  A good premise, but somehow the novel never lived up to my expectations.

I don't regret reading it, by any means, I just hoped to like it better.   Years ago, I read The 7 Percent Solution which I liked, and I always enjoy Laurie King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.  Sherlock Holmes continues to intrigue me, whether through Doyle's original stories or the many take-offs.

Other reviews here:  Linus's Blanket, The Written WorldLiterary Corner Cafe...

Fiction.  Mystery/Historical Fiction.  2010.  350 pages.


  1. I'm glad you reviewed The Sherlockian because I've been hemming and hawing about whether or not to leave it on my wishlist. I think I'll go ahead and remove it so I can substitute a title I will probably enjoy more. I'm not big into mysteries, anyway. Thanks for another excellent review!

  2. Nancy -- I've seen some very positive reviews of this one, but I wasn't crazy about it.

  3. All this book did was make me want to read the originals...

  4. I need to make some time to return to the originals as well. And maybe see if I can get some of the Basil Rathbone movies on Netflix!