I have decided to create a Graham Moore fan club, and I get to be president. Moore is the author of The Last Days of Night, the book that flipped me out a couple months ago and had me screaming at practical strangers in the street “Read this book! Now!” any chance I could. I faltered a little when people pressed for more details; “It’s about… well, electricity. But you guys, TESLA IS IN IT’ I stand by my sane and comprehensive review and recommendation. My favorite thing to do is to find a book I love and then discover that they have other books I can throw myself in to. Alas, Moore only has one other book, The Sherlockian, but lucky for me it was wonderful too.
Once again, Graham Moore plumbs the depths of my fan girl brain to pull out everything I love and throw it into a piece of historical fiction. This time it is Arthur Conan Doyle (whose Scooby Gang gleefully includes, I am thrilled to tell you, Bram Stoker) in a split mystery story. The first story takes place in 1893, just after Doyle has unceremoniously pitched our hero off the Reichenbach Falls, throwing the public into grief and anger against him. Holmes fans are really not having it at all, and one of the most interesting parts of this book is Doyle’s relationship – and all writers’ relationships – with their creations. We know that Doyle resurrects Holmes a few years later, but it is a particular stroke of genius to place this story in that pocket of time.
In the story or in real life (I will not be bothered to look this up and pull myself out of the atmosphere), Doyle has kept extensively detailed diaries of his days, but it is discovered that the diary that would account for the time in which Holmes is dead is nowhere to be found. This story imagines that Doyle and Stoker spent that time helping Scotland Yard hunt down a serial killer, and it does not disappoint.
The modern story centers on Harold White, who is something of an outcast but has just been accepted into the most prestigious (yes, there are lots of other, less important ones) Sherlock Holmes society, The Baker Street Irregulars. These nerds (jealousy) have actual conventions and meetups to discuss all the minutiae they can find and probably show off the girlfriends they definitely have, and the current hot topic is that the diary has been found. And the Sherlock scholar who has brought the diary to lord over all the inferior nerds has been found murdered in his hotel room hours before he is to spill all. Delicious!
Harold, along with an annoying-ish reporter, who tags along for reasons I am never totally clear on, is off on a grail search through England for clues about the hidden diary, the identity of the murderer, and the truth about Doyle’s lost adventure.
I loved this book; it is twisty and fun to read even though I mostly wanted to stay in 1893. I love dual time frames and stories, and this is done well. Both mysteries are challenging to solve and neither is totally satisfying in its reveal, but this is the least important thing about it. For me as is always, the true test of enjoying a book is when it shoots me off in another direction, and sure enough I immediately re-read The Adventure of the Final Problem and loved it all over again.
Grade : A-