Saturday, August 22, 2015
I read this book a couple of years ago, and have recently been re-reading the Sherlock Holmes canon. I'm trying to go in chronological order of the stories as they were written by the author, NOT the dates they were published.
This fictional story is based on several true facts and events that we know about the life of Arthur Conan Doyle. It centers around a missing diary kept by Conan Doyle, but never found among his papers or other journals after his death. What makes it so compelling is the fact that the missing diary is from the period exactly when Conan Doyle would have been working on the first Sherlock Holmes story in nearly a decade.
Everyone knows that in 1893 Doyle killed Holmes in a fall off the Reichenbach Falls (a story which, the author dated as taking place in 1891.) Doyle never offered an explanation for why he killed the beloved detective and just as mysteriously in 1901 he released "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" (which takes place only two years later in 1893 and which some scholars argue is the greatest of all the Sherlock Holmes stories.) True to form Doyle never offered any explanation of why he suddenly decided to resurrect Holmes, thus the missing diary is thought to include his thoughts and reasons for returning to Holmes and the entire mystery genre.
When a modern day Conan Doyle scholar is found murdered at an annual Holmes convention after having claimed to find the missing diary, every Sherlock Holmes expert in the world suddenly finds himself trying to be Holmes and solve an unsolvable mystery. The story jumps back and forth between the modern day account of one Harold White, a Sherlock Holmes fanatic whose knowledge and obsession of the detective draw him into the murder investigation, and a story of Arthur Conan Doyle in that pivotal year of 1900 when he would have been contemplating writing again about his long dead detective.
It's a quick, easy and entertaining read and actually motivated me to go back and start re-reading the Sherlock Holmes canon from the beginning. I'd only ever read two of the novels and a handful of the short stories, so going back and reading the original stories has been very interesting. (Especially when I watch "Sherlock" and Benedict Cumberbatch for fun on the side.) Anyway, I'm excited to hear your thoughts. Enjoy.