16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
What Do You Know of Newton,
This review is from: Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Dark Matter", by Philip Kerr is primarily based upon the person of Sir Isaac Newton, and includes moments with the likes of Daniel Defoe, Samuel Pepys, and Christopher Ellis, all of who lived during late 17th Century London. The book is well written and if the final twenty pages were representative of the entire book, it would have been brilliant.
Sir Newton is hardly a historical enigma, so why Mr. Kerr chose to portray him as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character Sherlock Holmes is not only a mystery, it makes little sense. For the Sir Newton of this historical novel bears little resemblance to the Newton that history has recorded and many biographers have documented. And Christopher Wallis bears even less resemblance to the famous Dr. Watson. The novel did not need to lean so heavily upon these other characters to work, and I have no idea why an author of Kerr's talent decided to use them.
The background players that give the story its excellent ending are The Knights Templar, and I kept hoping they would play a larger role in the book, for they essentially were the consummation at the book's close. For when the book collects itself and defines itself, it is Christianity and the faith that upholds it that are the real story in this novel. The Knights were a fascinating historical group and they deserved more prominence in the tale.
I enjoyed the book but only to a point as I have read biographies of Sir Newton. Kerr's portrayal is so far from the historical personage that it was hard to forget who the real man was, and accept this version of Newton as super sleuth. Newton was a brilliant detective of matters scientific; portraying him as a 17th Century Holmes was too derivative and unworthy of the stature of Sir Newton.