Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Release: The Sherlockian

Graham Moore's first novel, The Sherlockian, is a well-researched and imaginative journey into a brief period in the life of Arthur Conan Doyle and also into the modern community that worships his most well-known creation, Sherlock Holmes.

This novel alternates chapters between the present and the past.  The present day story is that of Harold White, a twenty-nine year old researcher who is inducted into the prestigious Baker Street Irregulars at their annual meeting in New York City.  His dedication to Conan Doyle and deep knowledge of Sherlock Holmes is quickly put to the test when a fellow scholar is found dead after announcing he has found the single missing volume of Conan Doyle's journal.  Is White up to the task of finding the now missing-again journal and identifying Alex Cale's murderer?

The story in the past is the account of what happened to Arthur Conan Doyle (and his friend Bram Stoker) in August 1893, when Doyle killed-off the beloved Holmes, and then from October through December of 1900, the period covered in the missing journal.  What happened to the author during this time that led him to join forces with Scotland Yard and eventually resurrect Sherlock Holmes?

As is the case many times with dual setting novels, one of the narratives in this book is stronger than the other.  The Victorian one is quite wonderful and I plan on picking up Daniel Stashower's biography of Conan Doyle to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.  Moore did a wonderful job with the Victorian voice and the story that unfolds is really well done.  It explores Conan Doyle's ambivalent feelings about his creation, his personal life and that of his friend and fellow (but unappreciated) author, Stoker, and the women's suffrage movement of the time.  It also touches on the workings of Scotland Yard at the time -- a subject that really fascinates me.

And luckily, though not quite as good as the past narrative, the present one gains momentum as the story moves forward and I found myself strongly invested in Harold's plight as well.  He is a sympathetic but odd character and you really hope that things work out for him.  I think that Moore has a fantastic career ahead of him if he only improves from the high bar that has been set by The Sherlockian.

Elementary, my dear readers,

Support our site and buy The Sherlockian on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We received an advance reading copy from the publisher.


  1. There's lots of Sherlockian/Conan Doyleian novels around lately. have you read Arthur & George?

    Another recommendations: have you seen any of BBC's "Sherlock" series (only 3 episodes so far). There’re wonderful!

  2. Can't wait to read this. I'm hoping to see it under the tree for Christmas.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading this. I'm glad to read your positive reaction to it.

  4. Sounds good. Maybe I'm weird but although I'm not a big fan of Conan Doyle's books, I do enjoy modern books based on his creation, Sherlock Holmes.

  5. I'm a first time commenter! :) I have started reading some of Laurie King's novels based in part on Sherlock Holmes, and I really enjoy them. Thanks for the review.

  6. First of all, I am in love with that cover.

    Second, I think it is a neat to have a novel about a writer's relationship with his own character.

  7. I have never been able to resist a dual-timelines story, of course. This in spite of the fact that so, so many of them are bad. So "though not quite as good as the past narrative" is like a RAVE REVIEW for a girl with a dual timeline fetish. :p

  8. oohhh, I have to read this book. it sounds like so much fun, especially for the fans of Doyle and Holmes, which I most certainly am. Thanks for the review, Kristen.

  9. I love this sort of plot structure.
    Hmm I'll have to think about picking this one up.

  10. Sleepless - I haven't read Arthur & George but I will have to! I adored the new Sherlock series. I thought they did a fantastic job at updating it!

    Carol - I hope you get it too!

    IUbookgirl - I hope that you enjoy it!

    Tracy - I've read a few modern Sherlock stories and liked them too. He's a character that can be interpreted a hundred different ways.

    Bailey - Thanks for commenting! I have the first Laurie King book here but haven't gotten to it yet. I know that when I finally start, I will devour them quickly!

    Jenners - I love the cover too -- so eye-catching! And I felt that the exploration of Doyle's feelings about Holmes was possibly the best part of the book.

    Jenny - I'm not able to resist them either and I'm frequently disappointed. This is definitely one of the better ones!

    Lilly - I hope that you get to read this one. It's fresh and interesting and well worth it!

    Al - Me too. I think it gives a chance to fill the reader in on the mystery while keeping some of the characters in the dark. It's a bit like cheating but I like it!