Monday, February 16, 2015

Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy

Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan It's 1893. King Kamehameha III of Hawaii declares Sovereignty Restoration Day ... Tension grows between China and Japan over Korea ... The Bengal Famine worsens ... A brilliant scientist in Calcutta challenges the system … The senior priest at Kyoto's Kinkaku-ji temple is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Dr John H. Watson receives a strange letter from Yokohama. Then the quiet, distinguished Mr. Hashimoto is murdered inside a closed room on a voyage from Liverpool to Bombay.

In the opium dens of Shanghai and in the back alleys of Tokyo, sinister men hatch evil plots. Professor Moriarty stalks the world, drawing up a map for worldwide dominion. Only one man can outwit the diabolical Professor Moriarty. Only one man can save the world. Has Sherlock Holmes survived the Reichenbach Falls?

Writing a new novel starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson can either be a fun homage to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or it can be a painful game of imitation that leaves readers cringing. This was the latter. 

For one thing, the timeline where this story is supposed to happen makes absolutely no sense. The plot takes place within those three years where Holmes was considered to be dead after fighting with Professor Moriarty, but it allows Watson and Holmes to meet again before the canonical meeting in “The Empty House”. Considering how surprised Watson is in the original Doyle story of their reunion, this add-on leaves readers scratching their head. If Watson already knew he was alive because of this fanfiction passing as a novel, then why would he be so shocked in Doyle’s story?
That blatant disregard for canon is not the worst thing that this novel has to offer, unfortunately. 

There are endless pages of exposition explaining how Holmes survived, which are laughably unrealistic. There is the fact that now apparently Moriarty survived Reichenbach, as well, making that entire Doyle story pointless. There are also ridiculous suggestions at Holmes’ interest in philosophy of any sort, including vegetarianism. Most of the characters, apart from Watson, speak like Holmes, including one man who uses the same detection skills as the famous detective. There are the mind-numbing travelogue pages that boil down to “we got on a train, we got off a train.” I could go on and on about the faults this book has to offer, but the worst one, the one that made me push the novel aside time and time again is that it was boring. I have never found a Sherlock Holmes story boring, not even the ones written towards the end of Conan Doyle’s patience with the character. The characters were pale copies of the originals and the plot was laughable. Although the book is marketed as seriocomic, it is neither serious nor comedic. Just dull.  

This is not a good Sherlock Holmes story, as you have probably deduced by now, pun intended. Stick to the originals or to the ones approved by the Doyle estate.

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