three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
51-Mar-Apr-2011
By: 
Graham Moore
user_rating: 
0

A-The SherlockianIn his debut novel, a historical double mystery, Graham Moore, a 28-year-old graduate in religious history from Columbia, resurrects all things Sherlockian.

The Story: In 1893, in The Final Problem, Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his beloved creation, Sherlock Holmes, invoking anger and death threats from beloved fans. Soon after, Doyle, with Dracula creator Bram Stoker, becomes involved in a mystery involving suffragists and a serial killer. More than 100 years later, at the meeting of The Baker Street Irregulars, a prestigious Sherlockian society, researcher Harold White is inducted into the group. After a scholar promising to present Doyle's long-lost journal is found strangled with his shoestring in his hotel room, Harold decides to investigate. As the narrative pans back and forth in time, Doyle tries to solve his own crimes as Harold, with reporter Sarah Lindsay by his side, searches for the diary and the scholar's killer.
Twelve. 352 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 9780446572590

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"Moore uses alternating chapters to tell his two stories--a method that could become clumsy, but doesn't. ... Any mystery lover [will love this book], even one who has never read a Sherlock Holmes story, if there be such an unfortunate creature." Bryan Woolley

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The Sherlockian manages to make a journey from the ridiculous (Harold White, instant detective?) to the sublime. And it is anchored by Mr. Moore's self-evident love of the rules that shape good mystery fiction and the promises on which it must deliver." Janet Maslin

South FL Sun-Sentinel HHHH
"Alternating between two centuries, The Sherlockian works as an insightful look at the rise of celebrities, extreme fans and a character who continues to be bigger than life as well as a testament to the power of storytelling. ... Doyle would be proud of Moore's ingenious The Sherlockian. So would Holmes." Oline H. Cogdill

Salon.com 3 of 5 Stars
"Throughout both cases, Graham plants effective red herrings and false trails, and the two stories inevitably intersect, with the final scenes of one providing rationale for the other at a suitably resonant locale. The conclusion clears up the mysteries tidily and offers Harold a vision of life without the deerstalker hat, but there's little here to raise a shiver." Bill Tipper

Onion AV Club 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The tantalizing lacuna and head-scratching murder-mysteries are doubly interesting because they're all based on gruesomely true events, but while Moore is skillful in pushing the action forward, he makes only a cursory effort at braiding the narratives into a satisfying whole. ... Still, in spite of some flat characterization and a first-timer's tendency toward overstatement, The Sherlockian has its dweeby charms." Christian Williams

Critical Summary

"This is a novel by, for, and about Holmes-quoting mystery nuts, and it understands what makes them happy," noted the New York Times. Yet far more than a book for Sherlockian enthusiasts, the debut is a clever, engaging read for all crime aficionados, featuring two heroes working in different time periods and places who use Sherlockian wit to solve their respective crimes. Lest readers worry that the alternating stories don't overlap, Moore intersects them appropriately, making Doyle's past activities relevant to the present day. Only the Salon critic felt the story lacked suspense, and the Onion AV Club cited far-fetched "leaps of logic." But most readers, Sherlockian fans or not, will eagerly await Moore's next novel.