When I heard the premise for "The Sherlockian" I was intrigued. I’ve been a fan of the great detective ever since I picked up "Hound of the Baskervilles" in a school reading class years ago. And earlier this year, I read the fascinating book "The Devil and Sherlock Holmes" that delves into the true story of how an avid Holmes fan was killed and what possible motives there might have been.
Graham Moore’s "The Sherlockian" feels a bit like a fictional exploration of that question. In one storyline, avid Holmes fan Harold White has just been inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars. At the annual convention, a man is scheduled to appear to discuss his discovery of a long-lost journal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The journal comes from the time between the publication of "The Final Problem" and "The Hound of the Baskervilles" when Doyle killed off his detective and tried to establish himself in other genres and with other characters. The man is killed in his hotel room and the diary vanishes. Teaming with a reporter named Sarah (who serves as his Watson), Harold takes on the task of trying to apply Holmes’ methods to solving the murder and finding the lost journal.
Woven between this is an historical story of the lost journal time with Conan Doyle attempting to also use Holmes methods to solve a crime. In this case, Doyle is joined by Bram Stoker (yes, THE Bram Stoker) as his Watson.
Both stories are interrelated and feed off each other with considerable success. As a mystery, the story works well, keeping the thread going in both time lines. The novel manages to deliver on its intriguing premise and comes up with an interesting explanation of what happened to Doyle during his time away from Holmes and why he returned to his character. It also speculates on why when Holmes returned he was a much harder character than previously seen.
The only points off for "The Sherlockian" was that I was able to deduce one key plot point early in the story. (It concerns the plotline of Harold.) Otherwise, this is an intriguing read that should be of interest to fans of a good mystery and especially those of a good Holmes story.