I loved--LOVED--this novel.
Furthermore, it's one that Zeb saw in a bookstore, picked up and brought over to me, saying, "This looks like something you would enjoy." And that is a wonderful feeling, that idea that somebody knows you well enough to know what books you would like, that somebody gets you that way. That somebody is paying attention.
All that aside, however, Zeb was totally right.
I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was a youngster, and loved them, and then reread them as a teenager, and loved them again, and then reread them as an adult, and--you guessed it--still loved them. And I enjoy general Sherlockania, and even the films from Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett and even Robert Downey Jr, which I forgive its liberties because of the sheer rollicking good fun. Also, the Steven Moffat Sherlock
on the BBC is one of my favorite things EVER. It's a modern adaptation for people who love the original.
But, I digress. The point is, I love Sherlock Holmes, and have for years.
That is possibly a setup for hating a book such as this (people hate when their passions are mucked about with), which is not about Holmes, exactly, but rather about people who love him--the titular Sherlockians, whose devotion to Holmes varies from excited fandom to manic devotion. When one of them--who claimed to have located the lost diary of Conan Doyle, the one from the time period in which he killed Holmes off in the Reichenbach Falls--turns up dead, strangled with his shoelace, then Harold, an intrepid Sherlockian and newly-inducted Baker Street Irregular, decides to solve the mystery, employing Holmes's methods to try to locate both the murderer and the diary.
But the book is also about Arthur Conan Doyle, who did seem to hate his own creation, and his frustrated yet inescapable tie to Holmes. Doyle gets wrapped up in a mystery and drafts his friend Bram (Stoker, which also delighted me to no end) to serve as his Watson to investigate the arrival of a letter bomb and the related murder of three young women. And it's marvelous to be alongside him as he tries to put all his fictional theories into practice.
This IS a work of historical fiction, but it's based in reality, which makes it even more exciting in a way. And it's a marvelous mystery--two of them, really, as we watch both Harold and Doyle try to find the solution and then, once they do, wonder what now?
And the final chapter, a mostly-aside about the completion of replacing London's gas lamps with electric light, and they way it drives back the fog... it's beautiful, and melancholy, and so vividly encapsulates the passing of one era into another.
I highly recommend this novel, and can't wait for Moore to write another.