The most delightful thing about this book is the sheer glee the author seems to be taking in rolling around in his Holmesy geekery. That enthusiasm isThe most delightful thing about this book is the sheer glee the author seems to be taking in rolling around in his Holmesy geekery. That enthusiasm is enough to pull me through the slightly dull bits when he's recapping history just because he can, only loosely tied to the story he's crafted for Holmes.
Definitely quasi-academic and not really curl-up-on-a-rainy-day sort of reading, but more than amusing enough to hold my attention in the fits and spurts I gave it. ...more
A wildly mixed bag of stories, some of which were marvelous (hi, Barbara Hambly!), some of which were awful (hi, author whose name I've blocked becausA wildly mixed bag of stories, some of which were marvelous (hi, Barbara Hambly!), some of which were awful (hi, author whose name I've blocked because it was SO BAD), many of which skated around somewhere in the middle. I do love me some outsider POV, though, and this was a wonderful collection of that.
My one regret, though, is what I find so very, very common in much of Holmesiana: either an author is all about elevating Holmes at the expense of Watson or elevating Watson at the expense of Holmes. Sure, this often makes sense in the context of the points of view in this collection, but too often it comes off as authors having axes to grind. And, sure, I should've expected some of this in the nature of the book (it's about other people's relationships with Holmes), but I feel like these stories (and so many pastiches) shoot themselves in the foot by ignoring much of what makes the original ACD stories so marvellous: the relationship between Holmes and Watson (and I don't even mean that in a subtextually groiny way). It comes off as a little authorial self-inserty: sure, Holmes and Watson were an okay pair of crimefighters, etc., but the one who was really important was me. Er. My character.
It's part of why I so thoroughly enjoyed the new BBC version of Holmes: Sherlock may still be, well, Sherlock, but John Watson is a badass in his own right, and it's all about how they're simply more together than they are apart. I think that's true in ACD as well, and I wish more pastiches recognized that. ...more
Ehn. Competent, if uninspiring, "missing" case files based off of references to undocumented cases in canon. A pleasant diversion but nothing grabbingEhn. Competent, if uninspiring, "missing" case files based off of references to undocumented cases in canon. A pleasant diversion but nothing grabbing. ...more
**spoiler alert** Alas. Alas and alack. The first half, three-quarters of this novel were awesome, a really lovely pastiche, maybe the best I've read**spoiler alert** Alas. Alas and alack. The first half, three-quarters of this novel were awesome, a really lovely pastiche, maybe the best I've read so far, and the last few chapters veered off into an entirely different story that I was far less inclined to enjoy.
Holmes in India, with an Indian scholar-spy filling the role of Watson yet not trying to be Watson oh frabjous day, a cracking good mystery, all sorts of atmospherics - A+A+A+. A real treat to read, especially hard on the heels of the Russellian The Game, with a similar heavy dollop of Rudyard Kipling's Kim, but for once with an Indian narrator - a slightly different, very welcome perspective. Lovely. The way the author plays with the narrative voice and dialogue is a delight.
And there were footnotes.
Then. Then. Um.
Spoilers for the end.
Then the author chose to make Holmes the reincarnation of a Tibetan monk, battling a not-quite-dead Moriarty, who was in fact an evil Tibetan monk before the monk-later-known-as-Holmes, um, brain-zapped him to stop his evil ways, leaving him drastically wounded psychically and convinced he was English. The final battle was all about Moriarty attacking Holmes (and the Dalai Lama) with a magic stone while Holmes fought him off with powerful mudras.
And, okay, I'm totally all about taking a classic story, a classic character and recasting that story/character in another culture, another history. It's a remix! I love remixes! Which is why I loved the first chunk of this book so much. New setting! Everything seen through a new prism! Lovely!
But in the context of all of the reincarnation and Buddhist warrior magic, Holmes at one point rushes to the rescue of the Dalai Lama because he "just knows" the lama is in danger.
Explicitly states he has no evidence but is going only on gut feeling and certainty.
Which is ultimately explained by his reincarnated/soul transferred/magic Buddhist warrior status, but that's the point at which it stopped being a Sherlock Holmes story for me. The whole point of Holmes is that he never "just knows." Reading a Holmes story should be a rollicking adventure, driven by a dash of crazy logic. Sure, there can be an epic showdown in a deserted temple beneath a glacier, and I'll even give you a supernatural battle for the climax and conclusion, but for me, at least some part of that battle should be a battle of wits. A battle of figuring things out. And as much as I loved Moriarty getting taken down by Huree's umbrella, Holmes's suddenly-revealed superpowers just threw me right out.
(Seriously. There is a point at which, during a moment of danger and crisis, one of the monks begs Holmes to "remember who you are!", at which point he does, and magical shenanigans ensue. It verged on Neo's "I know kung fu.")
I've got no problem with the political message or the spiritual content or weaving Holmes into the history of Tibet. I've got no beef with Sherlock Holmes suddenly plunged into a supernatural world, even with his own supernatural powers. But when those supernatural powers are suddenly more important than Sherlock Holmes being, y'know, Sherlock Holmes, then you lose my delight as a reader.
And, oh my god, how did I go from being an idly interested reader of Sherlock Holmes a year ago to someone who has intense. feelings. about the very essence of the character and what he means? I blame you, Laurie R. King. I blame you, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. And, yes, I must blame you, too, Arthur Conan Doyle. ::shakes fist::
ETA: I've figured it out. My problem is that this book fails to adhere to the oath of the Detection Club: "Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence, or Act of God?" I assumed I was reading a novel that adhered to these standards, so the Divine Revelation took me by (unpleasant) surprise.