by Graham Moore
Read: March 4 – 12, 2011
Challenge: TBR Dare
Yearly Count: 12
Format: Nook Book
First Line: Arthur Conan Doyle curled his brow tightly and thought only of murder.
Blurb: In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines, anticipating the detective’s next adventure, only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning — crowds sported black armbands in grief — and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin. Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had “murdered” Holmes in “The Final Problem,” he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found. Or has it? When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he’s about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world’s leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold – using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories – who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.
Review: I bought this book for my Nook Color late last year after being immediately intrigued by the description. It was definitely an impulse buy (especially since it was $12.99 – thank goodness for Christmas gift cards!). But I must say, I only wish I hadn’t waited so long before beginning this book! To be completely honest, I don’t know a whole lot about Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. I honestly don’t think I’ve even read a Sherlock Holmes story. The chapters alternate back and forth between the two storylines: Arthur Conan Doyle and his friend Bram Stoker are on the hunt of a murderer in the early 1900s and Harold White, a Sherlockian in the present time, is trying to find the missing diary of Conan Doyle. I personally enjoyed the storyline with Arthur and Bram, it really gave a lot of insight into Arthur Conan Doyle – a man who actually is kind of behind the shadow of the character that he created. At one point in the novel, Conan Doyle shares about Holmes, from page 12:
To put it frankly, I hate him. And for my own sanity, I will soon see him dead.
Being someone who doesn’t really know a lot about Arthur Conan Doyle and his life, I never realized that he had come to despise the most famous character in mysteries. But at one point in the book, I understood his frustration. At this point he was asked to sign an autograph – but to sign it Sherlock Holmes, not his true name. I can see where his frustration with this imaginary character could come from if confronted with that.
Personally, I came to prefer the storyline that revolved around Arthur and Bram rather than Harold’s search for the elusive diary. However, at one point during the search, Harold’s character had a line that I really liked (that Sherlock Holmes had said in one of the stories), from page 212:
“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think it would appeal to a wide variety of people. People who enjoy historical fiction would definitely love the storyline from the early 1900s. And people who love a good mystery would enjoy the storyline with Harold. I honestly feel as if this was a really good book, perhaps one that will make my Top 10 favorite books from 2011. I enjoyed it that much. Highly recommended.