Hurtling from present day New York to Victorian London, The Sherlockian weaves the history of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into an inspired and entertaining double mystery that proves to be anything but "elementary."
In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines, anticipating the detective's next adventure, only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning-crowds sported black armbands in grief-and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin.
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.
Graham Moore is a New York Times bestselling novelist and Academy Award winning screenwriter. His screenplay for The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, won both an Oscar and a WGA Award in 2015, and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. The film received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
Graham's first novel, The Sherlockian (2010), was translated into 15 languages. It was called "sublime" and "clever" and "delightful" by the New York Times, "savvy" and "entertaining" by the Los Angeles Times, and lots of other nice things as well.
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.
I enjoyed The Sherlockian immensely. I couldn't put it down because it was so compelling and the mystery was so well done. Whether you are a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, or, like me, don't know much about him, if you enjoy mysteries, you must pick up this book.
Sly self-awareness keeps THE SHERLOCKIAN smart and agile, [and] it's possible to enjoy this book's laughable affectations and still be seduced by them... it is anchored by Mr. Moore's self-evident love of the rules that shape good mystery fiction and the promises on which it must deliver.
New York Times
A truly terrific mystery ... Witty and breezy, yet [it]manages to explore the toll taken on Doyle by having created a character so beloved that the creation obscures the creator ... For a first book - actually, for any book - this is impressive. Among its virtues is a feel for the gas-lamp Victorian world. As we read, we understand Doyle's impatience with his world as well as [Harold] White's yearning to return to it ... The Escher like patterning of real life on fictional reconstruction, complete with murder, related rissoles and tentative love story all come off without a hitch. For mystery lovers, this book is a treat. For Sherlock Holmes lovers, it is indispensible.
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