The Sherlockian by Graham Moore: No hound but has some teeth

The SherlockianThe Sherlockian is a new historical fiction by Graham Moore (which of course begs the question if there is any other kind of historical novel) is a midly entertaining mystery that tries to draw on the current craze for symbol-based thrillers (Dan Brown territory) and the ever-present craze for Sherlock Homes. The Sherlockian is smartly composed of two parallel tales: one set in the beginning of 1900 in which Arthur Conan Doyle tries to solve a murder and one set in contemporary times where a sherlockian (a term for true fans of the detective) tries to solve a murder related to the missing Conan Doyle diary.

It is a smart premise and the parallelism of the stories keeps the novel interesting even though the contemporary is almost a straight lift out of any of the Dan Brown novels and is achingly boring on top of that. The pair of insipid Harlod and Sarah running around looking for clues is derivative, half-baked drivel. The Conan Doyle story on the other hand is intriguing and seems to fit the mood of the novel better. Graham Moore, perhaps a sherlockian, clearly does better in the past than in the present.

Historical fiction has its advantages. You get to read and learn things you hadn't really thought of. Bram Stoker (yes, of the Dracula fame) plays Dr. Watson to Conan Doyle's Holmes. Even Oscar Wilde is a part of some conversations. Who knew they were contemporaries? You also get to add one more place you know you need to visit before you die: Reichenbach Falls - the place where Holmes "died" and now hosts a famous sherlockian museum nearby.