Fans of the great Holmes, from the casual to the obsessive, will rejoice at The Sherlockian. Written as a dual narrative, the novel’s chapters alternate between the story of modern-day Baker Street Irregular Harold White, and the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Harold White is one of the youngest inductees of the Baker Street Irregulars, the most prestigious and exclusive club of devoted Sherlockian experts. Extensively read, socially awkward and highly intelligent, he finds himself embroiled in a mysterious death at the annual meeting of the Sherlock experts. A member claims to have found the missing Conan Doyle diary and promises to reveal all at the conference, only to turn up dead, presumably murdered, on the morning of his presentation. Determined to solve the mystery on his own, White sets off on a wide-ranging adventure into something bigger than he first imagined.
Meanwhile, every other chapter details the adventures of Conan Doyle and his loyal friend Bram Stoker (yes, the very one and the same) as they attempt to solve a series of brutal murders hinted at in a failed letter bomb sent to Conan Doyle. As the details of the missing years of Conan Doyle’s hiatus from Holmes coalesce, it becomes clear that both “detectives” in the tale are on the trail of something very sinister indeed.
The Sherlockian combines good pacing with an engaging plot, and its ample dose of Holmes quotes, errata and flair for humor have enough to keep anyone from an initiate to a dedicated Sherlockian on the hook. While some of the dialogue is slightly mawkish and the mystery ends up feeling a bit too predictable in the end, these minor flaws are overcome by the kind of everyman adventure that one can’t help but enjoy.