Title: The Sherlockian
Author: Graham Moore
Release Date: December 1, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Harold White is the newest inductee to The Sherlockians, a society of people who are experts on Sherlock Holmes. When Alex Cale, a fellow Sherlockian, announces that he has found the lost diary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, one that scholars have been searching for since it was discovered missing after Doyle’s death, the Sherlockian community is understandably surprised. But what is even more shocking is that Cale is found dead the day he is supposed to make a speech about the diary, and Harold takes it upon himself to figure out the mystery.
Sherlock Holmes is experiencing a bit of a renaissance right now. Though he has always been well loved and discussed in Sherlockian circles, the mainstream public has started to take notice of him once again. From the wonderful and widely watched BBC series updating Holmes and transporting him to the modern era to the Robert Downey Jr. movie with a sequel on the way, people are interested in Sherlock Holmes right now. It makes sense, then, that he’d experience a renaissance in literature as well, which is where Graham Moore’s The Sherlockian comes in. Though I’ve read some of the Holmes stories, I don’t know a lot about the author (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) or character, so I was intrigued by the prospect of this book because I am always looking for a good mystery.
I was very, very impressed with The Sherlockian. There are two mysteries within its pages, one set in modern day with Harold as the detective, and the other set in the past with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the (reluctant) detective. As the book progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the two mysteries are somehow related. The narratives alternates chapter by chapter, jumping from present to past. This sounds like it would be choppy and disrupt the story, but it really doesn’t. It serves to heighten suspense and underscore the importance of what Harold is doing. Additionally, the stories in both time periods are gripping and equally interesting, which is incredibly rare for this format.
Harold was a wonderful main character; he bumbled a bit, and was frustratingly naïve at the beginning of the story, but it’s wonderful to watch him grow and take control of the situations he finds himself in. I really enjoyed getting to know him, and I loved how clever he was.
Moore includes some great information on Sherlockians and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in this book. I was fascinated by the relationship between Doyle and Holmes, which is one of the centerpieces of the storyline set in the past. Additionally, I found the information on Holmes after his resurrection (Doyle killed off the character and then brought him back years later, claiming Holmes faked his own death) and how he had changed very interesting. What makes this book even more appealing is that it is based on a real-life murder mystery, which Moore expounds upon in the Author’s Note at the back of the book.
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.