Saturday, February 20, 2016

Review: The Last Sherlock Holmes Story

The Last Sherlock Holmes Story The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The problem is sometimes preferable to the solution....
I've read Dust and Shadow and that novel honestly did not live up to expectations. So why did I pick up another Holmes mystery involving Jack the Ripper? Well, first of all, I'm running out of Holmes pastiches and life is getting dull.

Okay. So Holmes and Watson are once again in pursuit of Jack the Ripper, masquerading as the Napoleon of Crime. Holmes is wonderfully eccentric and Watson does a good job playing the sidekick-turned-detective (you'll see what I mean by that after you read the book!). Jack the Ripper was wonderfully scary and his actions were the icing on the cake. And the scene at Reichenbach was the perfect denouement. There were a few things about this story that did not work, however.
First of all, and this is mostly a complaint because my mind tends to wander, the chapters were way too long. It made the author seem in a hurry to put the story down without distributing the information evenly. Second of all, Watson using cocaine. Really? I mean, come on, that's ridiculous. I can't disclose my final complaint without giving away a major spoiler, so I'll leave it at that.
Not a bad read, but it got too carried away in trying to be original and failed to stay satisfyingly faithful to the source material.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: The Sherlockian

The Sherlockian The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one's going to be difficult to review... but I shall press on...
So I debated for some time over whether this novel should even be under the Project Sherlock moniker, but ultimately decided to keep it under the project because it pays homage to Holmes and his methods.
That said, this has to be one of the hardest ratings I've ever given...
Because ultimately while I can say that the story kept me flipping the pages, I am not sure that I enjoyed it, exactly. It's left me feeling kind of... empty.
To put it bluntly, there was something about the narration that just didn't work. I didn't have a problem with the alternating POVs, I had a problem with how dry they were. Sure, I kept turning the pages, but I did so almost emotionlessly. Toward the end it picked up and I started to react more, but too little too late. There was something that just made this mystery dull. I also did not like how, after the angle of Alex Cale's death is tied up, the narrative has Harold decide he's not going to pursue the diary any more, and then once he snaps out of it and gets back on the book's trail, the pace picks up and tries to race to the finish line. Harold could not have done that five pages ago?

Sit down and think before throwing in the towel in order to decide if it's really worth giving up. And he mopes all because Sarah leaves him. Throwing yourself a pity party will not give you my sympathy, Harold. You barely know her - move on!

Speaking of moving on, shall we?

As to Conan Doyle's point of view, I enjoyed him taking on the role of his own character in order to solve murders. I liked Bram and I enjoyed going back in time. However, I have the same problem with Conan Doyle's angle as I do Harold's. He gives up at some point and the narrative almost slows to that of a snail, and picks up when Conan Doyle eventually decides to (surprise, surprise) get back on his feet and wrap up the case. I also feel like he just got lucky when he bumped into the man who did it. I guess because Harold's angle was almost done, Conan Doyle's needed to catch up. That's just poor management of timelines, though, as it rushed to the end after all of the padding needed to support both storylines in an attempt to balance them out.

All things considered, it just didn't work for me, even though there were small things that caught my attention or got things going, but I feel like the bad outweighs how good this story could have been if it were done better and treated with more care. Otherwise it just reads like a failed attempt at a new twist on Sherlock Holmes.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What started out as a simple novel about helping Holmes to battle addiction quickly turned into a much larger struggle and I have to say that it captivated me. I pitied poor Holmes. I felt like I knew where he was coming from. I originally thought that the addition of Sigmund Freud would annoy me, but I actually ended up liking him.
I do have two main complaints about this book, however, and it's probably best to set them down while they are still fresh in my mind.
The first one is regarding my specific copy of the book. Who edited this thing? This novel is priced at $14.99, and I sat down with it only to find that its editing didn't make it worth the money. Seriously, did this book go through no editing process? Or did IBooks really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find copies of this book?
My other little complaint is that it took this story too long to get to the actual case that it followed because it spent so much time on Holmes' addiction. I also felt that the explanation for Professor Moriarty and The Final Problem, while interesting, was not the most believable.
But it's not a bad book. I enjoyed it immensely and found a really sweet relationship between Holmes and Watson. The way Watson cared for Holmes reminded me a lot of John from Sherlock and his narration was a joy to read.
All in all, this novel is well worth the read for those willing to see a different (yet faithful) take on the great detective.

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