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“The Sherlockian” by Graham Moore

The Sherlockian is Graham Moore’s first novel, and as the title suggests, its main character is a scholar of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s oeuvre—particularly the Sherlock Holmes stories. A new inductee into the Baker Street Irregulars, Harold White is thrust into a murder mystery when a senior member who claims to have discovered a long-lost diary volume by Conan Doyle is found strangled to death. His quest to discover both the identity of the murderer and the location of the diary is juxtaposed with a murder investigation carried out by Conan Doyle himself.

Both of the mysteries presented in the story are intriguing, and I enjoyed the way the chapters alternated so that the two progressed at roughly the same rate. This switching between the two plot threads is part of what makes this book such a quick read: as soon as I finished one chapter, I wanted to get back to that thread to find out what happened next. One possible pitfall with a story structure like this is that, if one of the plot threads were substantially more interesting than the other, readers would end up “skimming” the less engrossing one to get back to the favorite. Moore largely manages to avoid this—while I was always eager to pick up the plotline that had been left off, I soon found myself becoming reinvested in the new one.

One particularly interesting aspect of the story is how it’s built around facts of Conan Doyle’s life: some of his papers, including a volume of his diary, really did go missing after his death, and a noted Conan Doyle scholar who had been searching for these papers really did die under mysterious circumstances.

Potential readers should note that while references are made to the Sherlock Holmes stories, this is a book about Holmes’s author and fans, not Holmes himself. Unlike Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty or the BBC’s Sherlock, it’s not set within the Holmes universe. However, it’s a book that I think fans of the Sherlock Holmes stories would enjoy.

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