Monday, November 15, 2010

The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes: Review

Synopsis: When James Wilson retires from journalism (a stint in Afganistan, of all places), he decides to settle down in a small Welsh town with a roommate, a Mr. Cedric Coombes, and at first he thinks little of his new friend's eccentric behaviour. But he can't shake the feeling that he knows him from somewhere else. As Coombes displays his astonishing deductive prowess, and becomes embroiled in the police investigation of the bizarre death and murder of a man a bathtub, Wilson begins to wonder just who this Coombes is....

My take: Strange is certainly a word for it. As a pastiche of Holmsian fare, The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes by Barry Grant is passable. Buried in this bare-faced retelling of the original meeting of Holmes and Watson--only it's "Coombes" and Wilson--are some interesting bits of story-telling. Bits would be the key word. The entire scenario regarding Holmes's appearance in the 21st Century is highly improbable, if not down-right impossible. But, okay, let's suspend our disbelief on that count. The mystery itself is fairly interesting and watching Holmes come to grips with the world he has been "reborn" into is a pretty problem indeed. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that the world's first consulting detective and arguably one of the more brilliant men of all (fictional) time can quickly come up to speed with the ways of the internet and DNA cloning.

Where Grant really falls down is in his inability to properly convey the spirit of the original stories. There are moments--brief glimmers, but they are few and far between. And he completely turned me off by using Holmes as a political platform. It does not matter to me how much in agreement I may or may not be (I am fairly a-political when it comes to spreading my views hither and yon)--I do not care to see one of the most beloved fictional characters used as Barry Grant's soap box. Please, Mr. Grant, if you want to write a political book, then by all means do so--but make sure it gets shelved properly in the non-fiction area.

Two stars out of five. Mainly for the love of Holmes and the brief glimmers of what this book could have been. Overall, a fairly disappointing read.

1 comment:

Birdie said...

How disappointing! I definitely would have picked this one up, but I'm glad I've read your review, because I'm sure it would just have made me angry.
Thanks for the heads up!