What on earth possessed me to pick up a Holmes pastiche?
This was never going to end well…but I was persuaded by the audiobook, or rather the narrator of the audiobook. Apparently, Mr. Petherbridge can read anything to me.
Even this tripe. That is to say, I actually managed to listen to the whole book. I really don’t know how I managed this. Or why.
I have put a **SPOILER** warning on this little write-up because I really want to tell you about all the different ways that this book sucked, and much of that has to do with the plot.
So be warned.
List of 10 things I hated about this book:
1. The author does not understand Holmes as a character, nor does he seem to understand why ACD’s writing works, but more details below.
2. The author included real-life characters in the story. This is bad. There is no reason to include J.D. Rockefeller in this story, which is, at its heart, about the rivalry between Holmes and Moriarty.
3. Bringing in a real-life character is a poor decision from a writing point of view – it deviates from the original Holmes stories, which means the book already loses credibility in the Holmes universe. ACD never included real-life people in his stories. He may have hinted at some, especially when referring to royalty, but he shrouded them in mystery so much that any recognition would have been pure speculation.
Amazingly, yet understandably, this added to the charm and mystery of the original stories.
4. I get that the author tried to introduce an American element to the story. There is nothing wrong with that. ACD has done so on numerous occasions.
However, where this fell flat was that the author altered the British characters’ reaction to the American characters into something that was very different from the original canon.
Neither Holmes, nor Lestrade, nor the PM (or other high-ranking Empire politician) would have pandered to the American characters in such a sycophantic manner as comes across in this story. Why would they? Especially Holmes? Why would Holmes treat Rockefeller differently than say the King of Bohemia or Lord St. Simon or the red-headed gentleman (whose name escapes me at present)?
5. Holmes does not use the telephone. Much less even, can I see Mycroft suggesting that Holmes use the telephone.
Yes, telephones would have (just) been possible to imagine in a story set in 1895, but let’s not go over-board and assume that you could just phone any London police station from the phone at the Savoy. That is just silly.
6. Speaking of silly technology. Why did the author feel the need to highlight that the Metropolitan Police had provided Holmes with a “typewritten” police report?
Typewritten? Really? Again, it is possible…typewriters had just been introduced to the commercial world in the late 1880s (in the UK, the US was somewhat ahead there…I blame the patent rules in the UK), but what are the chances of the Met Police having a typing pool in 1895 or even some regular constable being trained in how to operate new-fangled technology such as a typewriter. Come on…
It really is this sort of detail that makes me groan at pastiches of any kind.
And I haven’t even gotten to the juicy part, yet:
7. Why did we need the “secret child” trope in this story? Ugh, … I hate it.
8. Why does Moriarty have to be a rapist as well as the king of evil masterminds? That is somewhat out of character for Moriarty whose main character attribute is that he is the mirror image of Holmes…but using his powers for crime? The other side of the same coin, if you like.
9. So, the secret child is Moriarty’s kid, and for some reason, the author twists this even further by suggesting that Moriarty’s propensity for crime could have been passed to his offspring. You know, because this is how genetics works.**groan**
And lastly, … are you sitting down for this?
10. Any story that gives Holmes a backstory that involves thwarted love will fail. Even worse, in this book Holmes’ love interest is a violin teacher and also the victim of Moriarty’s rape and mother of the secret child.
Get lost, book. Get lost!
Suffice it to say, there is little (or nothing really) that I can recommend about this story, except that the audio narration is very good.