Title: The Sherlockian
Author: Graham Moore
Length: 350 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Why I read it: On my list, Book club pick
In 1893 Arthur Conan Doyle confides that he is tired of Holmes and intends to kill him off. In 2010, Harold White is newly inducted into the most exclusive Sherlock Holmes society. 1900 Doyle gets a mysterious package delivered to his home. When it turns out to be a bomb he sets out to find who sent it. Along the way, he is drafted to investigate the murders of two young suffragette girls. In 2010 Harold is similarly drafted to find the murderer of a fellow Sherlockian and find the missing Diary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The good: Most of the time, I hate interchanging story lines, as I find it difficult to keep the sequence in order. But for some reason, in this book it worked beautifully. Although as the book progressed, I found it difficult to get through Harold’s part of the story, I wanted more Doyle. As a Sherlock fan, I liked the little quotations from Doyle, Stoker, and even Doyle’s mother. Every chapter had one. The story itself was captivating from the very first page, and I found it difficult to put the book down. But a girl has got to eat, and sleep, so I had to eventually stop for the night. The story was also very rich with Doyle, and Bram’s history. I knew the two were friends in real life, but I never thought they were close friends, and the book even mentioned Doyle’s friendships with J. M. Barrie and Oscar Wilde. As for Harold’s part of the story, well, as well written as it was, and as much as it was important to the story, after reading Doyle’s part, it was difficult to remember that Harold was a man my age in my century.
The Bad: Wile the book was well researched, it wasn’t perfect. And that is where I started getting mad at Moore a little bit. Let me start off by noting that I am aware that the book is fiction, and authors need characters that make the story work. That said, let me continue to vent. I like that there was a lot of research that was involved in the book, but if you are writing a book where the characters are real, the biggest mistake you can make is giving them family members that don’t exist. Doyle’s children had no kids, so the character of Sebastian Conan Doyle could not have been his great-grandson. Secondly, Doyle was approached to help find Agatha Christie, but he did not accept the offer. And here is where I got so pissed at Moore, I almost quit reading despite how much I liked the book. If you are going to put time and effort into researching one historical person, then you should out the same effort into researching all of them you toss into your book. I know there are some conficting reports as to Christie’s disappearance, but that is no reason to make up what ever you feel would sound good. And completely changing the gender of one of Doyle’s child seems really random and lazy. A reader should not have to put more research into reading the book than the author did writing it.
Now that the rant is over, I loved this book. Probably more than is appropriate. Who knew that when I randomly found it two months ago in Barnes and Noble, I’d found a gem mine full of Sherlockian and Doyleian splendor? Despite it’s faults, I didn’t want it to end. I even told my husband that I almost didn’t want to read the last chapter simply so the story wouldn’t be over. And I guess I do need to thank the book as well, for it’s faults. Because if Moore hadn’t have made some mistakes, I wouldn’t have known all I’ve since learned about Bram Stoker, J. M. Barrie, and Oscar Wilde. And I wouldn’t have learned anymore about Doyle or Christie. As for Harold’s storyline, it did get boring after a while. I don’t know why I didn’t like Harold as much mid-story as I did at the beginning, but there was something about him that I just couldn’t like. I would definitely recommend this book, and I would re-read it. But I think I may look for an ebook copy so that I can take notes on it.