Friday, July 27, 2012

"The Sherlockian" by Graham Moore

One of those ever popular and increasingly common tales that combine nostalgia for an older age with the speculation that perhaps those days were as exciting as the stories they concocted, “The Sherlockian” takes it one step further and allows the reader—or a fan much like such readers—to play out the adventure for real.

The story jumps back and forth between a mystery being solved by Arthur Conan Doyle and a modern day murder of a Holmes expert being investigated by one of Holmes’ biggest fans. These sorts of speculative historical fiction can be very entertaining, but where this one differs from most others is that most of the details it weaves together to form its plot are indeed facts. In fact, the only things that seem entirely made up by the author here are the events in the converging climaxes, but they are the least compelling in the book so that may say a lot.

The best thing this book has to offer is the way it explores the human compulsion to tell and hear mysteries, again and again. We love puzzles. Of course one’s world view makes a big impact into the whys and the how’s. Some of us see the puzzle story as confirmation of the “knowability” of truth; of order and justice in the world. For those who don’t see anything but meaningless chaos they can become a tiring escapism that makes the real world even more meaningless. Their idea of reality can never measure up because it doesn’t add up.

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