To start with... I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan. MASSIVE! I've read all the short stories and books, multiple times, and still go back to reread them fairly regularly. They were my first introduction to one of my favourite genres, and I still think that they stand up as much today as when they were first printed, which says a lot about any story. I've also even visited the museum!
With that said, you can guess that I was very intrigued by the premise of the Sherlockian. I haven't really read much about Sherlock Holmes apart from the official canon, so I was interested to see how I would find this tale of a man called Harold White, who is inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars, which is the one of the most famous Sherlockian society in the world, renowned for meeting every January for a weekend of study and celebration of Sherlock Holmes and the stories that made him famous.
Anyone with even a passing interest in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes will remember that Sherlock Holmes was infamously killed off by Conan Doyle, who was tired of writing Holmes stories, and longed to write something with more substance and gravitas. This mourning period lasted for eight years, during which time Conan Doyle received death threats from Holmes devotees, who could not believe that their favourite detective had been cut down in his prime.
After the 'Great Hiatus', Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles, arguably one of the best, and best-known Holmes stories. However, it has never been explained what caused Conan Doyle to finally crumble after eight years of resistance and start writing Holmes stories again - its one of the great mysteries surrounding the legend of Sherlock. What adds to this though, is the true fact that the diary of Conan Doyle which would cover this period has always been missing, and unless the diary is found, no one will ever know Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's reasons for resurrecting the character he had so decisively killed off.
In The Sherlockian, Harold White is the newest inductee into the Baker Street Irregulars, but the big interest of that weekend is centered around another member, Alex Cale, who has announced that he has discovered the long lost diary, and intends to unveil it to the world at the conference. However, before he can do so, he is mysteriously murdered, and Harold White takes it upon himself to discover the murderer and the missing diary, which was stolen from the room of the murdered man.
The book follows an interesting structure, with the chapters alternating between the modern day story of Harold White investigating the murder and the missing diary, and flipping back to the start of the century to show Sir Arthur Conan Doyle investigating a series of murders which strike close to home for him, with the help of none other than Bram Stoker.
I think the premise of this story was absolutely fantastic, but there's something about it that just fell a bit short for me. I wasn't that keen on the ending, as I feel it was a bit of an anti-climax, after a fair amount of twists and turns throughout the novel. I didn't really connect that closely with Harold White either, which may have been a part of the problem.
I actually think that this book may serve as a good introduction to the genre and the world of Sherlock Holmes, and I enjoyed reading a bit more about the background of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, along with the modern day fans of Sherlock Holmes, and it certainly made me want to find out more and seek out more non-fiction concerning them. However, I doubt I would ever re-read this book, which is unusual for me, as i re-read frequently. I think if the premise intrigues anyone, they should definitely give it a try, but I was definitely left with a wee sense of disappointment at the end.
Three stars from me, which is a generous score, purely based on the very clever premise - I just wish it had been executed slightly better!