Review: The Sherlockian

TITLE: The Sherlockian
AUTHOR: Graham Moore
PUBLICATION: 2011 by Twelve
FORMAT: Paperback


For over a century the fate of the missing diary of Arthur Conan Doyle has fascinated his devoted fans and when a leading Sherlockian announces that he discovered the Holy Grail of Doyleans, his body is found dead in his hotel room. Soon a young man named Harold will seek to look for the murderer of this esteemed scholar and the diary that is missing again.


I guess you would say that I am a casual fan of Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t read everything Doyle penned about the man, but I have liked what I did. I was familiar with the fact that Doyle grew to despise his creation so I find the concept that this book revolves around the backlash at the death of Sherlock Holmes to be interesting. I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for months. However, I feel up for a mystery now. I wonder if I should have read my biography on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before picking this novel up? Oh, well. Too late.

I loved, simply loved, the chapters told from Doyle’s era. Had the entire novel consisted of nothing but following Doyle, I would have considered giving it four Rings easily if not five. The major weakness that I saw in this narrative was the constant shifting between the past mystery in Doyle’s time to the present mystery in Harold’s time. To be honest I found the present day mystery to be lacking. I didn’t care for any of the players involved and quite frankly it didn’t bear a level of danger that the investigations from 1900 held as I was reading. I would get really involved in what Doyle was doing only to feel a level of frustration when it came time to switch to 2010’s timeline.

I’m so used to reading historical novels where Arthur Doyle pops up as a side character that it’s kind of refreshing to have the tables reversed and we have figures like Bram Stoker making an appearance. He becomes something of a Watson sidekick as Doyle investigates the murdered girls. Doyle and Stoker have a discussion about women’s suffrage and one of the reasons against it would be how politics could induce an explosion of divorces when husband and wife vote for different candidates. It makes me wonder if any have occurred for that reason.

Harold wants to be a real-life Sherlock Holmes, but I can’t help but find him to be annoying as the present day protagonist. Yes, I like the geeky aspect of being somewhat obsessive over a fandom because Ra knows I am unhealthy regarding more than a few of my own, but he would have been last on my list of investigators. Harold thinks he’s so much better than everyone by saying he needs to investigate the crime scene before the police contaminate it and calling a fellow Sherlockian that followed him to London an amateur detective… hypocrite much? A good example of what I am talking about is the following quote on pages 213-214: “What an ego Conan Doyle must have had, to think that just because he wrote mystery stories, he could solve real-life mysteries.” And he makes all these deductions on his quest for the murder and the diary, but he can’t make the simple connection that the Goatee Man was following him because his employer didn’t trust him? I had that figured out ages ago. At any rate this is one of those cases where the protagonist is demonstrating a life imitating art experience.

I had really hoped to like this more considering the promising chapters involving Doyle’s time. I would say that mystery lovers should read it and decide for themselves, but use the library. If I ever read the book again I will be skipping anything dealing with the present day.



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