Having been steeped in the writings of Sir Author Conan Doyle as a boy from The Lost World to Sherlock Holmes immediately seeing this book’s title prickled the hair on the back of my neck. How could someone think they can emulate or worse still try to copy one of the greats. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Moore’s version of events quite within the realms of possibility.
A well thought through approach, obvious research in the private life of Doyle, and information only a Sherlockian would be aware of are self-evident throughout. A Sherlockian is a member of a group that devotes themselves to the study of Sherlock Holmes, quoting passages as some folks quote famous movie lines, and holding occasional meetings to study and discuss the famous detective. Doyle would have been disgusted at such loyalty to his creation, after all, as the books points out, Doyle killed Holmes off because he had become bigger than Doyle. The author was playing second-fiddle to the character he wrote about.
The Sherlockian starts with a meeting of the devotees, whose organizer claims to have discovered the missing diary of Doyle; the one that has had everyone talking for months. Doyle apparently kept a very detailed accounting of his life and the missing chapter would be of great interest to historians, let alone this group of readers. Unaccountably the diary is stolen and the finder apparently murdered before he can bring to light his findings. Smelling a rat, Harold White, an ardent student of Holmes’ techniques, and Sarah Lindsay, the journalist who was to report on the findings of the diary, pair up to track down who killed their esteemed leader and to find out where the missing diary might be now. If this mystery wasn’t enough to keep one turning the pages, Moore switches back and forth between current times and the nineteen hundreds, every other chapter, so the reader is finding out for himself exactly what is transpiring that Doyle wrote about so ardently that will make the discovery of these lost months so important to his fans of today.
The back-and-forth ploy is a tremendous asset to the novel and it kept me up late into the night unable to stop reading until I turned the file pages to discover the final ending to this astutely written historical thriller.