Sherlock Holmes, the Missing Years

Sherlock Holmes, the Missing Years


Large Print - 2015
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It's 1893. King Kamehameha III of Hawaii declares Sovereignty Restoration Day. Tension grows between China and Japan over Korea. The Bengal Famine worsens. A brilliant scientist in Calcutta challenges the system. The senior priest at Kyoto's Kinkaku-ji temple is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Dr John H. Watson receives a strange letter from Yokohama. Then the quiet, distinguished Mr. Hashimoto is murdered inside a closed room on a voyage from Liverpool to Bombay. In the opium dens of Shanghai and in the back alleys of Tokyo, sinister men hatch evil plots. Professor Moriarty stalks the world, drawing up a map for worldwide dominion. Only one man can outwit the diabolical Professor Moriarty. Only one man can save the world. Has Sherlock Holmes survived the Reichenbach Falls?
Publisher: Scotsdale, Arizona :, Poisoned Pen Press,, [2015].
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9781464203640
Characteristics: xiii, 403 pages (large print) ; 23 cm.


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Jul 16, 2015

An unusual attempt by an Indian author to borrow a Victorian hero character. It is more of an adventure novel in the vein of J. Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days (from which the author borrows much of the route) mixed with A. Christie's Poirot-like expose at the end (albeit in an overly long 30+ page monologue) than an attempt to be a A. Horowitz-like extension of the Holmes chronicles.

This is not an A.C. Doyle estate "blessed" novel like the ones from Horowitz although as the latter's self-destructing finale in his latest "Moriarty" shows, such a blessing is not necessarily a guarantee of a good read. The closest the publisher has managed to get is a lukewarm introduction by the treasurer of Sherlock Holmes Society of London (reinforcing U. Eco's point about a superficial artifact related to the original necessarily embedded to make the hyper-reality of Vegas).

Readers expecting the A.C.Doyle experience will be disappointed. It is not difficult for an educated Indian author to emulate the language and narrative style of A.C.Doyle. The author does a fairly credible job even if with a tongue-in-cheek CYA letter to start the novel from Watson to blame the "young and female" editor at the publishing house for any deviation from Watson's style.

The book is somewhat enjoyable on its own and benefits from borrowing the characters. But gives nothing back to maintain the legend and mystique of Sherlock Holmes (despite the title). The brilliant observational and deductive skills that made Holmes never make much of an appearance. Moriarty comes out like a typical mob boss than being the intellectual equivalent of Holmes on the dark side.

The dark atmosphere A.C. Doyle set up with the poorly lit roads of the era and London fog as the backdrop to build the tension is replaced by Hollywood-like superficial props for the trip around half the world as may be written by an armchair traveler. Holmes and Watson resemble Verne's Fogg and Passepartout more than the originals.

Best read as a novel on its own with borrowed characters to set up the plot with some tongue-in-cheek introspective/meta observations on the characters themselves.

An eminently forgettable light summer read.

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