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The Dark Water: The Strange Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
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The Dark Water: The Strange Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell #3)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  358 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
"The cliffhanger adventures of Bell and Doyle keep us enthralled, as does the -graceful flow of Pirie's evocative storytelling."-The New York Times Book Review "Pirie's knowledge of Doyle's biography, as well as of the Holmes canon, makes [him] an intellectual treat and a downright guilty pleasure."-The Washington Post "A convincing Victorian world of eerie moors and fearl ...more
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Pegasus Books (first published May 1st 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 948)
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Nov 21, 2015 Tamsinwilloughby rated it it was ok
Shelves: murder-mystery
The Dark Water is volume three in the series following Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph Bell. This series doesn't lend itself well to just dipping in, so if you want to try it I recommend starting with The Patient's Eyes.

A good mystery with satisfying twists and turns. But the relationship between Doyle and Bell just didn't work for me. It hasn't changed and grown since the first book. There doesn't seem to much affection between them. They don't feel like friends or mentor/mente or even comrades.
Aug 20, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
This book is not what I imagined, but I have no complaints. The title came up when I was trolling through a library catalog for books on "Sherlock Holmes". It's not about him, nor is there any specific mention of him in the entire book. On the other hand, this is an action-filled adventure staring Professor Dr. Joseph Bell (MD) and Arthur Conan Doyle, MD. "Who?" do you ask? Bell is the real-world archetype used to create Sherlock Holmes and ACD is the man who created him and his "Boswell", John ...more
Oct 01, 2008 Brooke rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, mystery
The third Arthur Conan Doyle book (and last? I'm inclined to say it's not a trilogy now, but I can't find any information about future books online) isn't as focused as the second one was. Although the case that Bell and Doyle take on in a superstitious village is directly related to their search for the villain Cream, it seems tangential until the end. I've really enjoyed reading all three books, but the strength in plotting and pacing does seem to go up and down.
Riju Ganguly
Jun 15, 2011 Riju Ganguly rated it really liked it
The end of game, or was it merely the end-game? This third volume of "Murder Rooms" trilogy keeps the reader as well the protagonists (Dr. Joseph Bell, and Arthur Conan Doyle) on a tight leash till the end, with the shadow of Doyle's nemesis lurking at every unseen corner and unknown angle. I have to admit that towards the end of the book, the author had succeeded in making me rather paranoid and that had revealed a few things before their 'official' exposure caused by Dr. Bell, (e.g. the asylum ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Kevin rated it really liked it
This is the third book in Pirie's series about Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell. Unfortunately, I haven't read the first book. When I read the second book, I thought it was mildly interesting and enjoyable, but I wasn't really impressed. Well, either Mr. Pirie greatly improved, or I just didn't give his book sufficient attention, because this novel was excellent. Doyle and Bell, in their Watson and Holmes roles, continue to pursue the serial killer who has haunted them for the last several ...more
Jun 06, 2013 Chris rated it did not like it
Shelves: sherlock-holmes
I had such high hopes for this book. I have read other books with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as the main character before and really enjoyed them. I always think it is fun to see him put into situations like his creation Sherlock Holmes. It kind of shows how an author pulls ideas from real life experiences. That being said I just couldn’t get into this book. It became a chore to read and I struggled to move through this.

My problem with this book was the story. It took forever for any type of action
Ich bin immer noch etwas angespisst, ob des sehr schleppenden Starts dieses Buches. Klar man musste ja den Cliffhanger des letzten Buches aufklären - und es ist immer noch eine Romanversion eines BBC Miniserie. In sofern verstehe ich das seltsame Timing. Die ersten 150 Seiten sind also eher de Fortsetzung von Die Zeichen der Furcht: Aus den dunklen Anfängen von Sherlock Holmes bevor es zur eigentlichen Geschichte der Hexe von Dunwich geht. Der Fall der Hexe an sich hätte von mir eine 4 Sterne Be ...more
Dec 04, 2015 Roberta rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, fiction
I have enjoyed several books by other authors based on Doyle's Sherlock Holmes books and many of them are better than the originals. This one was only about as good as A Study in Scarlet.

It doesn't seem like a good strategy to start a book with a first chapter as dark and disconnected as this one. I almost stopped there and wished that I could get back to the library before Tuesday to get something better. But I forged ahead.

Although I have not read any other books in this series, I am already
Nov 01, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Als ich auf der Rückseite des Buches las, dass es sich um den dritten und letzten Teil der Serie um die Anfänge von Sherlock Holmes handelte, war ich schon etwas traurig. Aber wie gewohnt zeichnet der Autor auch hier ein authentisches Bild der viktorianischen Zeit, in der immer Wissenschaft gegen Aberglauben kämpfte. Diesen Aberglauben macht sich der größte Widersacher von Arthur Conan Doyle und Dr. Bell - später bekannt als Moriarty - zunutze. Er lockt die beiden Ermittler in eine Stadt, die vo ...more
Jan 16, 2016 Jessica rated it it was amazing
This was the continuation of Night Eyes, right where the last story left off. Doyle finds himself kidnapped and being drugged by Cream. Through cunning and careful planning he manages to escape and then begins the hunt for the evil man who has caused him so much pain.

The hunt leads him and Dr. Bell to a small town where strange things are going on in a supposedly haunted area. The town is rife with old legends and someone is using these legends to kill and scare people.

Doyle and the doctor mana
Jul 27, 2015 Kathy rated it liked it
I would give it one star if I was judging my level of "liking" but that is not fair to the author. This trilogy was purposefully and artfully crafted, but it gave me the creeps. I hated the cliff hanger at end of book 2, but I dutifully took myself to the library this AM and gave it 2.5 hours of reading. This endless recounting of yet worse and worse circumstances befalling Doyle and all those he encountered or had occasion to be comforted by was too much for my sensibilities. I understand the l ...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
Dec 22, 2015 Elizabeth (Miss Eliza) rated it really liked it
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance, during Sherlocked. (October - December 2015)

Arthur Conan Doyle's nemesis has returned to England. He and Dr. Bell have made it their life's work to capture this man, Dr. Neill Cream, and see him pay for his crimes, not the least of which is murdering Elspeth, Conan Doyle's fiance. Yet Conan Doyle didn't expect Cream to strike first, kidnapping the would-be author and holding him hostage while heavily drugged. But Conan Doyle mira
May 09, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
The Dark Water: The Strange Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes is Pirie's third novel in his series featuring A.C. Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell, Doyles' inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. Originally published in 2006, the novel is being republished this month.

Dr. Bell and Doyle (Holmes and Watson) have a complex relationship, and Pirie uses fact and fiction as he describes the cases the duo pursue.

The villain in this piece is Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, the real-life murderer known as the Lambeth Poisoner and
Jonathan Kramer
Apr 19, 2015 Jonathan Kramer rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this for several reasons, the most important of which is the POV narrative. In other words, while I've read stories with new characters that took place after the rise of Sherlock and spins on stories Doyle never wrote, this is the first where the POV storyteller is Doyle himself where he's playing the Dr. Watson role along side Dr. Bell, who is obviously the model for Sherlock.. Well done, plenty of surprises and could make a good film too.
Laura Salas
Jan 24, 2012 Laura Salas rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2015 Colleen rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I disliked the opening- felt a little too modern- but as it progressed the Wilkie Collins and Doyle tributes began to pleasantly pile up.
Good plot- liked the witches bits

$$$$$$$$$$$$$spoiler Alert$$$$$$$$$$$$

I, for one, hope Cream stays dead. Had enough of him already. Stand alone stories are best
Julie Hulten
Dec 31, 2015 Julie Hulten rated it really liked it
Very atmospheric ... Doyle serves as Watson, Dr. bell is clearly Sherlock. I need to read the first two.
May 04, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.

Enjoyable, but not as good as The Night Calls.

The beginning of the book was by far the best part, with Doyle imprisoned by Cream. The middle was interesting, but lacked some of the urgency that I think it needed. The climax doesn't pack as much of a punch as I expected after two books of build up.

Cream is still a chilling villain. Bell is excellent, yet again. Doyle feels mostly useless this time around, which is a shame.

All in all, I really enjoyed the series, and I wish there were
Mike Nebeker
May 11, 2015 Mike Nebeker rated it really liked it
This is the first book of this series that I have read. I liked it. There are obvious spoilers from the first books included in Dark Water, but it will not dissuade me from reading the others. Great premise.
Apr 06, 2015 Sheena rated it really liked it
I love anything Sherlockian in nature and I found this book to be no exception. While this book isn't about Holmes and Watson it is about Arthur Conan Doyle and his partner Dr. Joseph Bell. The author does an amazing job of interweaving Holmes like characteristic into his characters and if you love Sherlock Holmes you will like this book as well.
May 14, 2013 Terra rated it it was ok
Hm. Despite my love for Sherlock Holmes, I think I'm going to have to give this one a pass. Hit a little too high on the grisliness scale for my taste, and while Dr. Bell (Doyle's inspiration for Holmes) had some good insights, he lacked the obnoxious brilliance of the Man Himself. Not a waste of time, but not a book I will be coming back to either. I give it a big fat MEH.
Dec 04, 2014 Louise rated it did not like it
needed a good editor.
Jul 17, 2008 Autumn rated it it was ok
Picked it up on a whim from a display at my local library....

A mediocre read. Not a satisfying mystery - Dr. Bell (on whom Holmes was based) spends half the book off-stage detecting, and then solves the case all at once at the end, and the reader is left wishing we had been left some clues as he went gallivanting off.
May 14, 2009 Janet rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This would have been a fine conclusion to the saga of Cream and Doyle. We’ve got revenge, we’ve got death, we’ve got horror, and we have a very reasonable ending. Either Pirie just can’t bear to give up the limelight (and the money), or he has something even better in mind for the next book.

Thank you to and Open Road Integrated Media for allowing me access to this title.

Interesting read. I loved the way the author creates an experience that would inspire the main character to write the "Sherlock Holmes" novels.

Recommended to fans of Sherlock Holmes.
Jan 08, 2010 Julia rated it it was ok
"The Dark Water" is a fictionalized novel about Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Bell, the doctor who inspired the Sherlock Holmes character. The story is compelling and the dialogue is very brisk and satisfying. Recommended for anyone who's interested in Sherlock Holmes.
May 27, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it
The entire series (assuming there will be only 3) was excellent. This one starts and ends great! In between, however, it dragged. Great book and I recommend reading the full trilogy but this entry was certainly not the best of the 3.
Annie Oosterwyk
Very good, but perhaps overanalyzed for the reader. I feel like I read the story twice, once to understand the action, and then again, when the main characters told me what really happened.
Jan Aldergate
Feb 03, 2010 Jan Aldergate rated it liked it
Interesting start of the Sherlock Holmes stories - starting the story with Conan Doyle and Dr Bell. A bit dark, and ultimately a bit too predictable but an enjoyable read.
Oct 12, 2014 Sonja rated it really liked it
really liked it, keeps surprising.Would like to read another one, but is last in the series(so far I hope)and was published in 2004, so the outlook isn't too good.
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David Pirie was a journalist and film critic before he became a screenwriter. Just a few of his numerous credits are the BAFTA nominated adaptation for the BBC of The Woman in White and his collaboration with Lars Von Trier on the script of the Oscar nominated film Breaking the Waves. David Pirie lives in Somerset.
More about David Pirie...

Other Books in the Series

Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell (3 books)
  • The Patient's Eyes
  • The Night Calls

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