True Life: I'm a Sherlock Holmes junky. If he's in it, I will consume it. And to be honest, some of it's good (ie, Benedict Cumberbatch & Co.), an...moreTrue Life: I'm a Sherlock Holmes junky. If he's in it, I will consume it. And to be honest, some of it's good (ie, Benedict Cumberbatch & Co.), and some of it's horrible. This book falls in the latter category. It disappointed me for a multitude of reasons:
1. A poorly developed mystery! The Simpson kidnapping is almost a completely useless plot line, in my opinion, other for character relationship development. It's just boring. There's little thrill to the overarching mystery,
2. I love Watson, and Martin Freeman has made me love Watson even more. I absolutely despise when he's treated like a doddering and senile old man in Alternate Universes. The real Watson is the human half of Holmes, and he actually gets all the chicks in the stories. The lame "Uncle John" character in this story who gets nothing be depreciated by Holmes is not Watson.
3. Talk about a mischaracterized Holmes. King's Holmes shows no traces of the high-functioning sociopath we all know and love. He's soft. I do appreciate her attention to some of his quirks, like his disguises, but her Holmes just straight-up sucks. Sherlock Holmes definitely goes on to be a bigger bastard in his old age (evidenced by everything after Reichenback Falls), not a kindly old man.
4. Worst of all: Mary Russell? More like Mary Sue. If you're a nerd on the internet, Mary Russell is pretty pedestrian fanfiction material. There are no flaws in Mary Russell, and it drives me crazy. A random, super-brilliant teenage girl who always gets the answers right and happens to be buddingly attractive? Catches more respect from Sherlock Holmes than his partner of a bazillion years, Watson? Next, she'll be dating Draco Malfoy and have sparkly hair or something.
This book finally defeated me, it was hella long. Dan Simmons gets points for the following:
1. Mimicking the Victorian voice of Wilkie Collins. Real V...moreThis book finally defeated me, it was hella long. Dan Simmons gets points for the following:
1. Mimicking the Victorian voice of Wilkie Collins. Real Victorian literature-lovers know that Wilkie is the better option if you're looking for supernatural, drama, murder, and mayhem. He was a supreme badass. 2. Accurately depicting Charles Dickens as the self-absorbed dick he really was. Like many people who produce great art, he was ironically a horrible person. See: William Faulkner, Ted Hughes, etc. 3. Creep factor. Simmons doesn't skimp on the rot, gristle, rats, and other nastiness of Victorian body horror. (less)
Alas, this is a graduate of what I like to call the "Dan Brown New School of Mediocre History Mysteries." I mean, come on, it's his fault that history...moreAlas, this is a graduate of what I like to call the "Dan Brown New School of Mediocre History Mysteries." I mean, come on, it's his fault that history mysteries are the adult publishing craze of recent times. The only one worse than this is Kostova's The Historian, which is about a vampire. *facepalm*
You can tell Graham Moore is a nerd, and he knows his Victoriana quite well. While his write shows enthusiasm for the topic, he lacks in actual story elements. This is a weak mystery, plain and simple. The two aligned stories with Conan Doyle/Stoker and Harold/Sarah was an interesting idea, and they nicely threaded together in the end. But to be honest, Harold and Sarah are boring and impotent - Harold in particular. As a protagonist, he's really quite limp - especially for a Sherlock Holmes imitator. Conan Doyle would've snatched that deerstalker cap off his head and beat him with it, if I didn't do it first. Bram Stoker is a great character, and sadly underused. I would've loved to have him take a more active role in the whole thing.
The most disappointing part of this book is how short it is (yes, I'm actually saying that), because it didn't take any time to dwell on any real thoughts or themes for the reader to consider.I think Moore was trying to mimic Conan Doyle's style itself, which is punchy yet perfunct. Conan Doyle rarely wasted words, space, or clues in his writing - but he always left us with something to think about, and that's why mystery-reading folks like myself hold him in high mastery. The brilliant thing about Sherlock Holmes stories is that they're really simple and microcosmic: they magnify (pun intended?) just a few elements into something quite huge. But, without any feeling, a mystery is really just a simple puzzle, not an actual story. This story has no overarching emotional theme, and that's why it falls short of other books in its class, like, Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. The really salient themes of time, aging, and relevance are buried in the Conan Doyle/Stoker sections, but they're pretty much lost in the shuffle. There is no artistry in a denouement that wraps up neatly.
Unfortunately, this is an amateurish imitation of both Dan Brown and Arthur Conan Doyle. Hopefully in future writing, Moore will find his stride in thematic elements, and write a story about people, not stick figures.
Abandoned because this literary cliche is really starting to irk me. Another member of the Dan Brown School of Lazy History Mysteries, "Interred With...moreAbandoned because this literary cliche is really starting to irk me. Another member of the Dan Brown School of Lazy History Mysteries, "Interred With Their Bones" is irritating from the beginning. Let's follow the formula, shall we?
1a. Main Character: Literary expert in their field, especially on a specific cult author or text. Text tends to be European. In the case of Graham Moore's eyeroll-worthy book "The Sherlockian," it was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this case, MC Kate Stanley is an expert on Shakespeare who constantly bitches about leaving academia.
1b. Stop whining about academia, white girl. MC is almost always an insufferably over-educated, spineless, and awkward white person. Might be a Stereotypical Librarian, or is assisted by a Stereotypical Librarian Sidekick. As a librarian, I find this insulting.
2. Plot: Tends to be centered on some apocrypha around said cult author or text. In "The DaVinci Code," it was the Bible. In this case, it's a lost Shakespeare play. Apocrypha in question would BLOW THE WHOLE LITERARY WORLD OPEN IF ANYONE FOUND OUT, WHICH IS WHY MURDER HAPPENS. Honestly? I don't think the world would stop turning if we found another Shakespeare play. I think we'd be excited, but libraries wouldn't crumble to the ground in horror.
3. Freshman-Level knowledge on the actual topic. Many of the authors tend to be geeks gleefully playing with sacred texts, so the history part tends to be really masturbatory. So many assholes walk away from history mysteries thinking themselves experts on the topic. At least Jennifer Carrell is a Shakespeare professor, but honestly? It's fiction. Lazy fiction, riddled with cheesy references to the topic. Rosalind Howard "becomes" Hamlet's father in the way she's murdered? "Did you get the reference, Clever Reader??" There's enough cheese in this to cause a heart attack.
4. Someone deliberately leads the MC on a ridiculous chase. They usually get murdered first, handing the mystery off to our Genius White Academic. MC's life is in danger if they reveal a centuries-old secret that some cult personality has been protecting.
5. Police tend to be completely idiotic or absent. Because clearly, the Academic with all their knowledge doesn't need the experts in detective work! In the beginning, Kate points the police towards murder, and she just waltzes out of Heathrow back to Harvard? Seriously, as if Scotland Yard isn't making sure she's in protective custody!? Try making this believable.
Horrible Payoff: Secret tends to be incredibly lame. This one got spoiled for me by the internet because I wouldn't read on, but I honestly don't think it was something I wanted to be disappointed by.