Eric Hamilton's Reviews > The Valley of Fear

The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Aug 30, 11

Recommended for: Sherlock Holmes fans
Read from August 23 to 30, 2011

As a Sherlock Holmes novel goes The Valley of Fear aspired to, but did not meet the high standard that earlier novels and short stories of the detective set. The Valley of Fear hearkens back to the two-part structure of A Study in Scarlet, where the mystery and solution is handled almost completely in the first part, and then the second part fills in the background on how the mystery came to be in the first place. The Valley of Fear even imitates A Study in Scarlet in the fact that the second part takes place exclusively in America, just not in Mormon Utah, but union-thug-controlled mining region of the USA.

The mystery of part one is fairly engaging, but not the best of Doyle's mysteries. It may be that I have become too familiar with the Sherlock Holmes formula, that I felt like I knew exactly where Sherlock was going and the evidence that he needed to get that I wasn't engaged as much as some other Holmes novels have hooked me.

The background history of part two was confusing, and I admit that Doyle actually surprised me in the last chapter. It made up for a few of this novel's deficiencies, but not all of them.

The mention of Professor Moriarty in the beginning and the epilogue was awful. It didn't need to be in there, and if Doyle had spent a little more creative energy in actually utilizing Moriarty, I would have been more pleased with it.

All in all, a decent read, not too long, but if you have never read a Sherlock Holmes novel, do not begin with this one. Any of the other previous novels are a better place to start: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, or The Hound of the Baskervilles
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