In 1890 Sherlock Holmes and his cousin Dr. Henry Vernier are summoned to France to rid the great Paris Opera House of an ``opera ghost.'' Readers familiar with Gaston Leroux's story will be on safe ground in Siciliano's retelling. An elusive phantom threatens the management of the Opera with unnamed disasters unless he's paid ``several thousand francs a month'' and young and beautiful Christine Daae is cast as the lead in their productions. Under the tutelage of the ``Angel of Music,'' a fearfully disfigured musician living in the cellars of the Opera house, Christine becomes the rage of the Paris Opera. Holmes is hired by both the theater's management and the pompous and immature Viscount de Chagny, who adores Christine, to remove the Phantom's threat to profits and love. Although Holmes does little but interact with the other characters, through him and Vernier, the author re-examines the relationship of goodness and beauty. Siciliano's tale, while not original, is wonderfully atmospheric and moves briskly. (June)
When a beloved fictional character is given new life, it is a treat; when two fictional creations are successfully combined, it is a rare pleasure. In this lively yet respectful pastiche, the Phantom created by Gaston Leroux comes up against Arthur Conan Doyle's remarkable detective, who has been engaged by the managers of the Paris Opera to thwart the Phantom's blackmail scheme. Siciliano (Blood Feud, Windsor, 1993) has invented several memorable supporting characters, including a beautiful but nearly blind pianist and a Watson substitute whose patience with Holmes's eccentricities is only slightly greater than that of the good doctor. The story itself takes the elements of Leroux's romantic novel and preserves characters, plot, and setting, making the most of the many cellars and mysterious passages under the Opera itself. The tone is Holmesian to the last detail, with the reader swept along to a satisfying ending. A fine addition to the Holmes canon, a summertime winner, and, one hopes, the start of a series. [In Nicholas Meyer's The Canary Trainer, Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/93, Holmes also encounters the Phantom of the Opera.-Ed.]-Elsa Pendleton, Boeing Computer Support Svcs., Ridgecrest, Cal.
YA-A new case from an old detective. Sherlock Holmes and his cousin go to France to help the new owners of the Paris Opera learn who (or is it what?) is behind the mysterious happenings in the opera house. The story is narrated by Holmes's cousin, who is assisting the master sleuth as Dr. Watson is unavailable. Fast-paced and creative, the plot moves quickly and includes adventure, comedy, and romance. Students interested in the history of the stage will be drawn to this book as many period details of the theater are presented both as background information and as clues. Most of the figures remain true to their characters as originally presented by Doyle and LeRoux-even in the unusual, romantic ending. The cover is especially eye-catching: Holmes glares at the Phantom resplendent in red cape and skeleton mask. A fun selection for students mesmerized by the present Phantom or seeking a new challenge for Mr. Holmes.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
The premise sounds hokey--Sherlock Holmes dispatched to Paris to solve the Paris Opera House's problem with a certain phantom. Basil Rathbone meets Andrew Lloyd Webber. But the surprise is that novelist Siciliano actually pulls it off. The narrator here is Holmes' cousin, physician Henry Vernier, a lively substitute for Dr. Watson, who is on the outs with Holmes (and who comes in for his share of dissing from the proprietary Vernier). The book opens as one case is ending and the Paris Opera case beginning, but by the last page, Siciliano has neatly if rather obviously tied the two together. Once in Paris, the familiar story of the Phantom of the Opera and his love of singer Christine Daae proceeds apace, but the tale seems fresher and deeper, thanks both to the invigorating presence of Holmes and Vernier and to the wealth of marvelous detail, especially on the Paris Opera House itself. Let's hope this thoroughly enjoyable mystery is the start of a new Holmes series.