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The Secret Notebooks of Sherlock Holmes Kindle Edition
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I really was hoping when I bought this book it would be a detailed fictional account of the first few months of life at 221B, a skipped over and intriguing period of time, what would Watson have thought of the assorted and bizarre characters that were shown into the flat, Watson retiring upstairs to give privacy but not knowing what Holmes did? What decided him he could put up with midnight violins and indoor target practice? While all of Holmes and Watson's character traits are touched on there isn't the depth I was hoping for. The author does, after all, also write Holmes pastiche stories like Secret Notebooks of Sherlock Holmes, The but this is more a recounting of the dates of life events and cases with speculation about their motivations for certain actions and how they would have felt about events. Perhaps it's just that a biography of a fictional character seems pointless but I wasn't really gripped by any of it.
I'm a long time Sherlock fan, I first read the stories 15 years ago and have re-read them repeatedly, I've even had a bash at trying to make some sense of the dates given for the 'adventures' so I'm well aware that it is difficult-to-impossible to get any true sense out of the printed timeline [one is even dated in the middle of the 'hiatus' when Holmes is presumed dead], this book works on what I've dubbed the 'typo school of chronology', if a date doesn't fit in it's either Watson or the printer's making a mistake with the text. The author is hardly the first to try to put the cases in order and she does frequently reference the works of others used to put the book together although some of the dates have been moved to fit the author's own theories. It's well researched [although the mention of 'mainlining' 10% solution of cocaine jarred rather, 7% solution is what's in the book, there is even a Holmes pastiche titled '7 Per-Cent Solution' it's not a hard fact to know] and well written if a little dry in tone. Not bad but it wasn't what I was hoping for which I fear has left me less than keen on it.
These stories are supposedly published from Watson's recovered, unpublished notes. The setting and language are very true to the original, the cases themselves are based on odd lines e.g. 'the singular affair of the aluminium crutch' is a line from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. While I didn't have any difficulty believing these cases were things Holmes /might/ have investigated they overall seemed a little *prosaic*, smash and grab thieves, insurance fraud etc., I could quite imagine these as the cases Watson recorded and then decided weren't quite /exciting/ enough to publish rather than too racy as suggested in the original. Perhaps the earlier books in the series are better and the author had run low on idea by this one? It's not a bad book at all, I have made the stories sound boring, which they aren't, they just aren't as bizarre and twisted as Conan Doyle's works.
What I don't like about them is the reams of footnotes, supposedly added by the inheritor of Watson's dispatch box of notes, that seem to be there merely to prove that the author has seriously read and researched the original, and which assume the reader either hasn't read them or has forgotten almost every important fact in them. The notes are on virtually every page and add nothing to the reading experience, and in a few cases are really irrelevant [a bit about the pubs in on a dark street Holmes and Watson are passing through 'shining like beacons' links to a note about Sherlock once saying boarding schools being 'Beacons of the future!' being the worst for this].
They really just break up the flow of the narrative, usually to mention that 'Sherlock did something like this in whatever story', occasionally to explain a word like 'tantalus' [yes, I knew that already, thank you! I felt it was only explained so the writer could show off their knowledge of mythology and an obscure word with a duller definition wouldn't have been touched upon], they also have at least one inaccuracy, Holmes is described as using *10%* cocaine solution rather than 7%. Also while I'm on the drug topic Holmes uses the drug /during/ one case, In 'Sign of the Four' it is made clear Holmes only use drug between cases to relieve boredom, so two problems on one page there [I also read the author's Holmes and Watson book, more of an essay than a novel, and the same 10% solution was mentioned so not a typographical error], which is surprising as it seems to have had a lot of time spent on researching to make in canon and historically compliant.
So in conclusion, not bad but not brilliant, really quite fun and readable though if you skip the footnotes. I will probably buy another of the series, if I find it cheap.
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