Yay! I'm starting the year with a fun and smart book: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore.
The Sherlockian alternates between 2010 and 1900. In 2010, a man has been murdered over the discovery of Arthur Conan Doyle's lost diary. The man in question is, Alex Cale, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. Alex was about reveal the contents of this mysterious diary when he is killed in his hotel room. Harold White is the newest member of group, out to prove himself. With the help of a pushy reporter, Sarah, Harold embarks on a journey to England to find out just what was in that diary that drove someone to murder.
Back in 1900, Arthur Conan Doyle is experiencing the events in the missing diary. He is trying to put the much loved Sherlock Holmes behind him. All of England mourns for the deceased detective and Arthur is sick to death of it. When a exploding letter with the message "elementary" comes to his house, Arthur is drawn to action with the help of his friend Bram Stoker. Where the mystery leads him will forever change the man he is and bring Holmes back from the dead.
I was impressed by Moore's characterizations of both fictional and real people. I don't think I'll ever be able to think of Arthur and Bram without thinking of them as they are presented in the book. They leap off the page as real flesh and blood people with both admirable qualities and serious flaws. Harold himself is lovably dorky with his silly Holmes hat and brilliant mind. He is adorable. His 'Watson,' Sarah, is a kick-ass woman with secrets she keeps close to her vest.
I'm not always a fan of using real people in fictional works but I was got so involved in the mystery it didn't matter to me. At first, because I'm such a book nerd, I was excited when Arthur speaks to Bram. I was all, "Arthur Conan Doyle is talking to Bram Stoker! And OMG they're talking about Oscar Wilde. I know that guy!"
|I know that guy!|
It's not all fun and games, however. There are dark elements to the story. The Victorian back alleys are more than a den of sin, they represent a tragic flaw in society. Arthur also struggles with a quickly changing world while Harold attempts to live in a world he sees as 'simpler' than his own. It's difficult for both of them.
Moore does an excellent job of weaving fact and fiction together. It's a book to keep you guessing. Now I want to read the Sherlock Holmes novels.
Highly, highly recommended.
Thanks to Penguin for the review copy. Also thanks to the ladies from What's Old is New Again podcast for bringing it to my attention.
You can check out Graham Moore's blog too.