I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
2 stars but only because I DNFed at the third story – around 50% – and therefore don’t feel entitled to give 1 star.
I really wanted to stick with this until the end, it was 215 pages – I feel like a failure for not being able to. I wish I could say I will try to go back to it but I probably won’t. This book just wasn’t for me and I might be alone in this since generally the reviews seem good but no, just no.
My first impression was that Christopher Sherlock Webster is a spoiled, ungrateful brat that couldn’t just indulge his father for the sake of human decency. Your dad loved Sherlock, just read one of his stories with him won’t you? They aren’t long, and as you found out (a bit too late) they’re actually pretty good. My dad loves zombies, I personally think the concept is utterly stupid but I watched Shaun of the Dead and a few episodes of The Walking Dead and when his birthday came round I still bought him tickets for a zombie apocalypse experience. I’m sure Mr. Webster didn’t want to watch Barney or Teletubbies or whatever little Sherl watched in his childhood but he did. It’s just what you do for family.
Then, as the first story kicked in, I realised not only was he spoiled and ungrateful, he was also a pretentious prat that had achieved nothing of significance prior to having his rich friend drop a business into his lap that he does such a mediocre job of contributing to I think I’d have been able to do a comparable job. I knew exactly what the ending of the ‘The Fur Trade’ was going to be approximately 2 minutes into it and just to see if I was being overly analytical gave my partner the basics of the case since he’s a big Sherlock fan (listened to all the audiobooks as read by Stephen Fry) and see what he thought, this was our conversation:
‘I’m reading this modern-take Sherlock book, they’ve got this case: rich and famous singer’s boyfriend has been kidnapped for a second time by an animal rights group and they’ve asked for more money in exchange for his release again. What do you think is going on?’
*Not even really listening to me* ‘What? So her boyfriend faked his own kidnapping?’
Bingo! Got it in one, now my boyfriend is a clever sort so maybe it’s just us but I’m inclined to think this conclusion isn’t such a stretch for anyone. The second and third stories seemed weirder and more in the realm of Holmes but I still guessed the culprit in two and couldn’t get far enough into the third story to care to make a guess.
This book isn’t technically a modern adaption since the Sherlock Holmes books and canon exist as fiction in this world as they do in ours, so the Baskerville Agency is technically an overly zealous fan club with a gimmick to make money rather than an actual detective consultancy. Sherlock Holmes is not a PI he’s a consulting detective – which is explicitly stated in the original texts several times.
I’m by no means a veteran Holmes reader – full disclosure I’ve only read the first two books (I’m getting round to the rest) and watched the BBC adaption but what I specifically remember about those books was that the writing surprised me.
I had expected something more in the realm of Dickens or Dumas where you expect the writing to be overly flowery as standard, accept it as part of the story itself even, but actually found that Doyle had a very simple writing style, simple but effective. He didn’t need all the hyperbolic phrasing or unnecessarily long or archaic words to create the feel the books have. Now, to be fair this could be because Doyle writes his stories from the stoic and comparatively simple perspective of Dr. Watson as oppose to Holmes himself. Lyon writes this story from the Holmes archetype character so, you know, theoretically it could be argued that it is not the writing that’s pretentious is the character and had Doyle written his stories from the original Holmes’ point of view his writing would have resembled this. You could argue that, I wouldn’t but you could.
The benefit from telling the story from Watson’s perspective is that everything Holmes does is only shown from a third party and it’s easier to maintain the mystery and trickle feed the clues until the big reveal. The clues are still attempted to be revealed in this way in The Sherlock Effect but since you are reading from the perspective of the ‘Sherlock’ character you can’t really hear their thought process because it would give it away so what you end up with is quite a lot of dialogue.
The book was well-written despite this but these issues just meant I didn’t enjoy reading it. I’ll stick to the originals I think.