Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Review from Chantelle Osman: The Sherlockian

In the last year, there has been a heated debate amongst mystery authors and fans, at the center of which is a character over a century old—Sherlock Holmes. This disagreement arises from the plaintive cries of Canon purists who riot in the streets after each reinvention of Holmes on film. First, Guy Ritchie entered the fray, reconceiving Holmes as an action hero via Robert Downey Jr., and this fall we saw a modernized reboot with the series Sherlock (BBC and PBS) featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, (personally, I’m waiting for my cable network to have a twenty-four hour Holmes network, I’ll turn it on then throw away the remote) there’s no arguing that Sherlock Holmes is as hot a topic in the twenty-first century as he was in the nineteenth. 

Why has the distant and rather unrelatable character of Holmes made such an impression on us? It’s the height of irony that a character the author himself despised has endured so well. Stephen Fry, who (in a brilliant casting decision) plays Mycroft in the upcoming Ritchie sequel, is a lifelong Holmes fan. Of Holmes mania, he says: “People who love them [the stories], love them intensely, and I was like that as a boy.” Once the youngest member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, Fry credits Holmes with determining the course of his life. He’s not alone. I remember reading The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, footnotes and all, cover to cover as a child—as well as the sense of wonder I felt when I found a listing for an S. Holmes in the local white pages (I made the page into a bookmark, but never called). For me, the obsession never lessened. In my office, I have an entire bookcase dedicated to Holmes literature. Every time I see (or read) a new Holmes, whether tall, short, modern or classic, I cheer. Maybe it will inspire a new generation to pick up a book and meet the great man for themselves.

One brave young soul to recently take on Holmes is Graham Moore, author of The Sherlockian, in which he attempts to explain what prompted Conan Doyle to resurrect Holmes after killing him off with such relief at Reichenbach Falls in 1893. Moore’s debut novel centers on Harold, a new inductee into the pre-eminent Sherlockian society, the Baker Street Irregulars. After fellow scholar Alex Cale announces he’s found Conan Doyle’s missing journal, he shortly thereafter winds up dead. Harold finds himself on a quest to solve the mystery, asking himself every step of the way: “What would Holmes do?”  The Sherlockian is made all the more interesting by the inclusion of a parallel story line set in 1893 (the year of the lost diary), which finds Conan Doyle investigating a crime with friend Bram Stoker. A great read even for those who are not Holmes fans. For those who are, it’s not only eminently relatable, but puts us in the position we envy the most—that of being Sherlock Holmes.

-Chantelle Aimee Osman

The Sherlockian, already in its second printing, is a New York Times Bestseller and has been receiving equally positive reviews everywhere. To see one click here.

Members of The Poisoned Pen first mystery club will be pleased to know they all will be receiving their signed copy, however we have already sold out of our stock.

If you are interested in joining the First Mystery Club, email Patrick at

1 comment:

  1. Tonight was really fun and interesting! really enjoyed!
    I have a question about the blog. Can I ask you something?