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Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had "murdered" Holmes in "The Final Problem," he resurrected him. Though the writer kept...
Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had "murdered" Holmes in "The Final Problem," he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found.
Or has it?
When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he's about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world's leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold - using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories - who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.
Another resurrection of Sherlockiana, the conceit here being the story of tracking down Arthur Conan Doyle's missing journal from 1900—and solving a murder associated with the journal.
Owing to a couple of scholarly articles on Sherlock Holmes, Harold White has just been inducted into the famous but secretive Sherlockian society; at 29 he's one of the youngest members ever invited to join. A game's afoot, however, for Alex Cale, perhaps the most prominent Sherlockian of all, has recently announced that he's found Conan Doyle's famous missing journal. His plan is to reveal the contents at the annual meeting of the Sherlockians at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, but Cale is found murdered, with the word "Elementary" written on the wall near his body. White decides to solve both the case of the missing journal and Cale's murder. In his investigation he's abetted by Sebastian Conan Doyle, the great-grandson of the author himself (who feels he's the rightful owner of the journal), and Sarah, a reporter bent on following White because she's sure he has the best chance of finding the journal and solving the mystery of Cale's death. Throughout the narrative White's mantra is "What would Sherlock Holmes do?" and his answers to this question lead him from New York to London to Cambridge and finally to the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, the site of Holmes's putative death. Moore cleverly alternates his chapters between White's story in the present and Conan Doyle's activities in the fall of 1900, so the reader can better understand the reasons why Conan Doyle—or more likely his friend Bram Stoker—would want to suppress the journal. Along the way, Stoker winds up playing Watson to Conan Doyle, much as Sarah becomes a Watson figure to White.
While occasionally heavy-handed and coincidental, Moore's fiction provides a shrewd take on the noted author and his legendary scion.
So please grip this fact with your cerebral tentacle The doll and its maker are never identical.
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, London Opinion, December 12, 1912
August 9, 1893
Arthur Conan Doyle curled his brow tightly and thought only of murder.
“I’m going to kill him,” Conan Doyle said as he folded his arms across his broad frame. High in the Swiss Alps, the air tickled Arthur’s inch-thick mustache and seemed to blow straight through his ears. Set far back on his head, Arthur’s ears always appeared to be perking up, listening to something else, something distant and behind him. For such a stocky man, he had a nose that was remarkably sharp. His hair had only recently begun to gray, a process that Arthur couldn’t help but wish along. Though he was but thirty-three years of age, he was already a celebrated author. An internationally acclaimed man of letters with light ocher hair would not do so well as a wizened one, now, would he?
Arthur’s two traveling companions ascended to the ledge on which he stood, the highest climbable point of the Reichenbach Falls. Silas Hocking was a cleric and novelist well known as far away as Arthur’s London. His recent offering of religious literature, Her Benny, was a work Arthur held in high regard. Edward Benson was an acquaintance of Hocking’s and was much quieter than his gregarious friend. Though Arthur had met the two men only this morning, over breakfast at the Rifel Alp Hotel in Zermatt, he felt that he could confide in them safely. He could tell them of his mind, and of his dark plans.
“The fact is, he has gotten to be a kind of ‘old man of the sea’ about my neck,” continued Arthur, “and I intend to make an end of him.” Hocking huffed as he stood beside Arthur, gazing at the vast expanse of the Alps before them. Tufts of snow melted yards beneath their feet into a mighty stream of water that had, millennia ago, driven a path through the mountain as it poured loudly into the frothing pool below. Benson silently pressed a mittenful of snow into a tight ball and dropped it whimsically into the chasm. The force of the wind tore bits off the snowball as it fell, until it disappeared in the air as a series of white puffs.
“If I don’t,” said Arthur, “he’ll make a death of me.”
“Don’t you think you’re being rather rough on an old friend?” asked Hocking. “He’s given you fame. Fortune. You two have made a handsome couple.”
“And in plastering his name across every penny dreadful in London, I’ve given him a reputation which far exceeds my own. You know I get letters. ‘My beloved cat has vanished into South Hampstead. Her name is Sherry-Ann. Can you find her?’ Or, ‘My mum had her purse snatched exiting a hansom in Piccadilly. Can you deduce the culprit?’ But the thing of it is, the letters aren’t addressed to me—they’re addressed to him. They think he’s real.”
“Yes, your poor, admiring readers,” pleaded Hocking. “Have you thought of them? People seem so terribly fond of the fellow.”
“More fond of him than of me! Do you know I received a letter from my own Mam? She asked—knowing I would of course do anything she ever required—she asked that I sign the name Sherlock Holmes to a book for her neighbor Beattie. Can you imagine? Sign his name rather than my own. My Mam speaks as if she’s Holmes’s mother, not mine. Gah!” Arthur tried to contain his sudden burst of anger.
“My greater work is ignored,” he continued. “Micah Clarke? The White Company? That charming little play I concocted with Mr. Barrie? Overlooked for a few morbid yarns. Worse still, he has become a waste of my time. If I have to concoct another of those tortuous plots—the bedroom door always locked from the inside, the dead man’s indecipherable final message, the whole thing told wrong end first so that no one can guess the obvious solution—it is a drain.” Arthur looked to his boots, showing his weariness in his bowed head. “To put it frankly, I hate him. And for my own sanity, I will soon see him dead.”
“How will you do it, then?” teased Hocking. “How does one go about killing the great Sherlock Holmes? Stab him in the heart? Slit his throat? Hang him by the neck?”
“A hanging! My, are those words a balm upon my mind. But no, no, it should be something grand—he is a hero, after all. I’ll give him one final case. And a villain. He’ll be in need of a proper villain this time around. A gentlemanly fight to the death; he sacrifices himself for the greater good, and both men perish. Something along those lines.” Benson pounded another snowball into being and lobbed it gently into the air. Arthur and Hocking watched its open-ended arc as it vanished into the sky.
“If you want to save on funeral expenses,” Hocking said with a chuckle, “you could always toss him off a cliff.” He looked to Arthur for a reaction but found no smile on his face. Instead Arthur curled his brow in the tight-faced frown he wore when he was in the midst of his deepest thinking.
He gazed at the jaws of the chasm below. He could hear the roar of the falling water and the violent crush it made at the mouth of the rock-speckled river. Arthur felt himself suddenly terrified. He imagined his own death on those stones. Being a medical man, Arthur was more than familiar with the frailty of the human body. A fall of this height… His corpse banging, slapping against the rocks all the way down… The dreadful cry caught in his mouth… Torn limb from limb on the crust of the earth, the wisps of grass stained with his blood… And now, in his thoughts, his own body vanished, replaced by someone leaner. Taller. A thin, underfed ribbon of a man, in a deerstalker cap and long coat. His hard face obliterated, once and for all, on a spike of gunmetal stone.
Excerpted from The Sherlockian by Moore, Graham Copyright © 2010 by Moore, Graham. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted December 10, 2010
Graham Moore's debut novel has all the ingredients to be a delicious mystery. it opens with Arthur Conan Doyle and his dear friend Bram Stoker as Arthur debates the pros and cons of killing off his famed character, Sherlock Holmes. Filled with a bitter hatred for his character because all of London believes Holmes to be real, and Arthur to be his literary agent, he sets about to destroy Sherlock and falls into a real life Holmes mystery along the way when murdered young women start appearing across his path. In the present, newly inducted Sherlockian Harold White celebrates his membership into the exclusive Holmes fan club, the Baker Street Irregulars. On the morning of the most important Irregular meeting in history, the presentation of the missing diary of Arthur Conan Doyle, Harold is pulled into his own Sherlock novel when the man who found the diary is murdered and the diary goes missing. Alternating between these two mysteries, The Sherlockian flows along quite nicely in the beginning. The plots are intriguing and, like a good mystery, keep you turning the page. But about a third of the way in a shift in the writing can be felt, a twist in the flow. No longer was I reading a mystery whose words carried the story. Suddenly I could feel the presence of the author, his hand in the way things were turning out, his decisions in making a clue appear here or there. It caused me to step back from the book and view it as a piece of the author's work, not a natural thing of its own. I know a good book because the writing works for itself, the characters carry me along, not the author. When I can sense an author at work, I am removed and the book feels clumsy and even contrived. Sadly, The Sherlockian became that for me. The writing was still decent, but Harold became an annoying, weak character instead of a charming Holmes enthusiast, and Arthur Conan Doyle became a silly, bumbling detective instead of the writer of great mysteries. Overall I became underwhelmed by The Sherlockian about half-way through. I persisted out of curiosity to see how Moore would solve the mystery of the diary, but in hindsight, I've already forgotten what kept me turning the page, and I only finished reading last night.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 1, 2010
The Sherlockian opens in 1893 during the "Great Hiatus," which to all non-Sherlockians is the period of time when Arthur Conan Doyle had "killed off" the legendary dearstalker-wearing sleuth Sherlock Holmes and the fans were deprived of any new Holmes mysteries. Conan Doyle has made quick work of the great Sherlock by sending him over the falls, and he was presumed dead for several years. Any soap opera watcher knows that unless the body is found, there's no dead character. And so it was with Holmes when Conan Doyle slyly resurrected Holmes to the thrill of his fans worldwide.
We then fast forward to 2010 New York, to the bastion of all-things-literary, The Algonquin Hotel. It's there that the most ardent of Doyle/Sherlock fans, The Baker Street Irregulars, are holding their private induction meeting to welcome their new member Harold White. All of the members were excited with news Alex Cale had finally located the long lost diary of Conan Doyle. Alex had arrived at the Algonquin on "a dark and stormy night", announcing to Harold that he was being followed and feared for his life. A well founded fear, as it happens.
In The Sherlockian, author Graham Moore sets two clearly defined stages, telling two stories, both using Sherlock Holmes as a main character. While in the past, Doyle is aided by his real life friend, Dracula author Bram Stoker, as they try to solve a mystery surrounding the deaths of young women by using the techniques that Conan Doyle employed while scripting Holmes. A very clever and fun aspect of the story that first time author Moore uses brilliantly.
Moore easily slips us back and forth between the end of the 19th century with Conan Doyle and then forward into 2010 with Harold and his "Watson" freelance reporter, Sarah Lindsey as they search for the long lost Conan Doyle diary.
Being a mystery lover, I enjoyed the plotting and twists that Moore brings to the story. The Sherlockian is a work of historical fiction, and many of the situations and happenings in the book are events in Conan Doyle's life. Moore writes an enjoyable book, encompassing the telling of two gripping tales within the single book. The Sherlockian is the kind of book that I read quickly, rapidly turning the page in anticipation, only to realize I had almost finished the book and slow down to enjoy the end. I enjoyed this so much I'd pay hard-earned money to buy and give as a gift.
I look forward to what comes next from Mr. Moore.
Source: I received this book from the publisher at my request and in no way did this affect my review.
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 22, 2010
I love Sherlock Holmes stories and picked this up last week thinking it would be fun to read and I was not disappointed. It was very entertaining because of the parallel story lines of a modern day Sherlockian and Arthur Conan Doyle after he decided to kill Holmes. Anyone who's a fan of mysteries and/or Sherlock Holmes will enjoy this new novel from a promising new author.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 8, 2010
In the 2010 annual Baker Street Irregular convention, newby "Irregular" Harold investigates the murder of renowned Sherlock Holmes scholar Alex Cale. The homicide occurred just after Cale boasted he found the lost volume of Conan Doyle's diary. The valuable entry was not found in the hotel room where Cale was killed.
In 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle is bone weary of Holmes as he has no life seemingly without the famous literary sleuth. However, he never anticipated the uproar and anger when he solved his dilemma at Reichenbach Falls. In 1900 he has a bigger concern to deal with since someone sent him a letter bomb perhaps because of what he did to his "alter-ego". He turns to his friend Bram Stoker, who understands what it means to write a novel with a character that takes on a life of its own, to help him ferret out who wants Doyle as dead as Holmes.
This is a superb Sherlockian thriller with the focuses on why Doyle killed and later resurrected his hero. Readers see the same questions analyzed through the characters in the present day and over a century ago. The parallel subplots are rotated, which can be a bit overwhelming. The murder subplots though well conceived while enhancing the tale take a back seat to the overarching historiographical theme. Graham Moore proves modern day intelligent people unintended and unwittingly bring their imprint to Doyle and Holmes.
3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 4, 2010
What ever mystery hunter would love that is a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes would be to solve a mystery of their own!
Well in fact that is just what newcomer, Harold White, discovers as he attends his first official meeting of the Backstreet Irregulars, a private membership of those individuals who have an deep interest in all things involving Sherlock Holmes. The holy grail of all the members is the elusive diary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle which has been missing for years. Only when a member by the name of Alex Cale announces he has discovered it, does the mystery truly begin.
When Alex is found murdered, Harold White takes it upon himself to solve the mystery much like his nemesis, Sherlock Holmes would have.
In the novel, The Sherlockian by Graham Moore, the reader is immersed from the first page into two different time periods, one dealing with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the famous author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and a modern day mystery involving solving the murder of Alex Cale who purportedly had the original diary of Mr. Doyle's in his possession.
For those of you that love following clues, and unraveling the unknown mysteries in a great novel by fireside, this one is a must for you. I received this wonderful book compliments of Hachette Book Groups for my honest review and uncovered a 5 out of 5 stars!
This book is available in hardcover, audio and eBook formats.
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 28, 2012
Posted January 19, 2012
The world's love affair with Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, continues unabated. With more motion pictures and television shows devoted to Holmes, we can only assume that even more readers will be drawn to the original stories as well as the myriad of offshoots penned by writers paying homage to the legend and his creator. The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore, is an excellent addition to the Holmes collection. Moore gives us a very detailed portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle at a crucial time in the writer's life. Doyle feels he is being overshadowed by his own creation. He kills off his hero, but is still daily faced with reminders of Holmes' presence. In order to prove his superiority, Doyle becomes involved in solving the mystery of a slain girl. As a counterpoint, Moore intersperses a storyline set in the present wherein a Sherlockian devotee, Harold, is totally involved in the legend and lore of Sherlock Holmes. He becomes involved in the search for a missing diary which Conan Doyle supposedly penned between the time he killed off Holmes and the detective's eventual resurrection. The past and present are artfully counterbalanced to present a blend of action and romance that takes the reader deep into Conan Doyle's life to delve into the last remaining mystery of a master of mystery. Provided for review by the well read folks at Twelve Books.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 29, 2011
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Posted January 7, 2012
I love "sherlockiana" (not sure if that is a word). I've read all of Laurie King's Mary Russell/Holmes series and Hockensmith, too. This is a fun addition to Holmes stories. I liked seeing Doyle's point of view. I would recommend this to anyone who likes Holmes stories.
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Posted December 20, 2011
I could not put this book down... i even took it to work and read it there while on my breaks... Graham Moore creates a story that will have you trying to figure out everything that happens just like Holmes does. Its a great story that leaves you one step behind the hero and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! A must read for all sherlock holmes fans!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2011
Posted September 12, 2011
I am in the middle of listening to this book. I find myself thinking about it at random times. The Doyle/Holmes interludes really are what make the book strong. I always enjoy story behind the story books that bring in the history.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 20, 2011
Posted April 22, 2011
I ended up really enjoying this book but at the first 100 pages I wanted the pace to pick up...and it did. Once you get into it, you find it hard to put down. Most excellent in the way it all came together at the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2011
Posted February 9, 2011
This book was fantastic. It had a great pace and scintillating imagery. It was not hard to follow, even if you have not read any Sherlock Holmes stories. If you had, you find yourself trying to deduce along with the characters and solve the mystery with them. The interesting format the author uses by alternating each chapter from the point of view of Arthur Conan Doyle to Harold, the protagonist, is entertaining and keeps you from being able to stop reading. The end of each chapter is cliffhanger enough that you simply must continue reading. You find yourself immersed and trying to make the same deductions and conclusions you would if you were reading a S.H. novel or short story. Of course, this is simply my opinion, but I can't wait to reread it, now with the omniscient perspective. ....all this and the author was only twenty eight. Wonderful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 29, 2011