The game's afoot thanks to Titan Books as Tony Cross reads The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Moonstone's Curse by Sam Siciliano...
The aristocratic Charles Bromley arrives at 221B Baker Street to beg Sherlock Holmes for his help. Bromley believes that his wife is in danger, as she has refused an offer to sell the Moonstone, a fabulous diamond that has been in her family for generations but which is said to be cursed. When a jeweller is found murdered, it seems as if the Moonstone deserves its reputation. Then the diamond is stolen, and Holmes must try to unravel a mystery centuries in the making.
The Moonstone's Curse is not Sam Siciliano's first Sherlock Holmes novel. I haven't read any of the others and I have to confess this book doesn't really make me want to.
It isn't terrible, it just isn't very good. It's dialogue is clunky and never quite sounds right. There's a glorious moment when Sherlock Holmes uses the phrase 'that's rich coming from you', and it falls like an anvil dropping onto Wily E Coyote but with less grace.
The plot revolves around The Moonstone, an infamous jewel that Siciliano has lifted from Wilkie Collins's 'The Moonstone'. To borrow your main character from another novelist is one thing - after all, Conan Doyle himself gave writers permission to do what they wanted with Holmes - but to take your McGuffin from still yet another writer makes me feel slightly annoyed.
The bad dialogue and borrowings aside the reason I didn't enjoy this book is because I don't think Sherlock Holmes suits the long form. Let's face it, even a Study in Scarlet pads itself out with all the Utah stuff, so Siciliano isn't alone with this problem. So the book requires padding out with extraneous nonsense. In this case pages can be padded out because there is no Watson. Instead we have Dr. Henry Vernier.
Vernier is Holmes's cousin. He's also a Doctor because, even without Watson, someone is required to do the Doctoring. Why rid yourself of Watson if you're only going to replace him with another Doctor? Vernier brings with him a wife, Michelle Doudet Vernier, also a Doctor. This gives Siciliano the opportunity to pad out pages with their flirting, which is tedious in the extreme.
I know Siciliano isn't writing a pastiche so he's entitled to expand the story but it ends up reading more like an Agatha Christie novel than a Conan Doyle one. Conan Doyle would have cut swathes of this out and covered it in a paragraph.
Of course, Siciliano still gets to run through the Sherlock tropes - he gets to surprise someone with the sharpness if his deductions, for example, but, to conclude, if you want to read a good Sherlock Holmes books put this one down and go read the originals. Or re-read them. You'll feel better for it.
Follow Tony on Twitter @Lokster71
Image - Titan Books