There's a hokey premise lurking in Sam Siciliano's "Angel of the Opera: Sherlock Holmes Meets the Phantom of the Opera."
On the heels of a disturbing case (the conclusion of which sets the tone and pace for the rest of the book), Sherlock Holmes and his cousin Dr. Henry Vernier- the book's narrator and an amiable replacement for Watson, with whom Holmes has had a falling-out - are summoned to Paris, where managers of the Paris Opera House have had problems with a mysterious Opera Ghost.
Sounds corny, no?
The truth is, it's anything but. Siciliano ably takes Arthur Conan Doyle's and Gaston Leroux's creations, and weaves them into a story that is possibly better than those of his predecessors.
Vernier and Holmes share a delightful familial connection that takes way from Watson's absence as the two traipse through the underdwellings of the Opera House. It's not hard to imagine the two lurking in the background of Leroux's novel.
With considerable amusement, Siciliano transforms the flat, supporting characters of
"Phantom" into viable human beings.
The object of the Phantom's affections, Christine Daae, is a young woman torn by conflicting desires. Her lover Raoul de Chagny is a repulsive moonstruck suitor. Perhaps not Leroux's original concept of the characters, but infinitely more appealing to the reader.
Holmes and the Phantom's personalities are not altered, but the author presents them in a more accessible manner than Doyle and Leroux's versions- most likely because of the era they were written in- allow.
They are the Holmes and Phantom we are all familiar with; at the same time, they are no longer a stuggle to read.
The clash of titans is not so much a battle between enemies as it is a meeting of equals. Both are masters of their environments, incredibly gifted and neither is completely at ease with humanity.
From the moment Sherlock receives a warning telegram from the Phantom, neither man has the upper hand. When they finally come face to face, Siciliano wisely focuses on the mutual respect that only two of the most popular literary creations ever could have for each other.
Apart, the characters of Sherlock Holmes and the Phantom of the Opera are adorable. But when thrust together, as they are in "Angel of the Opera," the results are mesmerizing.