Foreword: A smart person probably would have reviewed the first of this series. A smart person.
Truly, there is nothing quite like the homoerotic tension between Sherlock and Watson. When I really think about what drew me into this series, I don’t think it was the writing, the setting or the crimes. It was the characters and the strange little love affair between the two main characters. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see them as a couple and I certainly don’t see any of them categorically gay. However, there’s a sort of romance in these books and between them that can’t be disguised as the feelings between friends and family. They’re pulled to each other.
So, Sherlock and Watson are no longer young bucks and there’s only so many enemies you can make before you need to remove yourself from the human cesspool that is London. This book revolves around that transition from a devoted city goer to a man of few needs within the country. Strange happenings seem to follow Holmes wherever he is and only he, with the help of his trusted friend and doctor, can uncover the mysteries. It’s too bad that ole Holmes is now a scientist and a bee-keeper, although it doesn’t take long for him to swing back into action and once more into investigating crimes.
I enjoy the series for its consistency. There’s never been a moment when I have felt that any of the sequels to the original Sherlock book were not following a similar style or way of engaging the reader. For me, though, that same, ever present way of writing and telling a story was beginning to grow thin. There is very little achieved in terms of character development in these books, as truly the real focus is on the investigating. Which is fine but for a character focused reader such as myself, that can get frustrating. I want to read more about Sherlock. I want to know more about him. There are hints, suggestions and the demonstrations of their true forms… but for me, that’s not enough. I want some real character development. I want the depth that Roskolnikov, Jean Valjean or Jane Eyre got. And I didn’t, which is nothing unexpected but it was still a real shame.
That was my main gripe with the book. It was too similar and after a few books of the series being demolished, I started to really hope that this next one would start to delve into who John and Sherlock where as people. That’s primarily why I didn’t give this book as high as a rating as I would have liked. It was too similar, too flat and there wasn’t enough for me to make me hooked.
However, dismissing that annoyance, it was still fun to read and it was very imaginative. I can’t imagine the fun that Doyle would have had writing and thinking of these crimes. I enjoyed the mystery, the adventure and how readable the books are. For a commuter with a short trip like myself, the stories are perfect to demolish in one sitting. It’s a fitting end to the series and a great book to read, so I would suggest giving it a go if you’re looking to continue your experience with Sherlock Holmes.
My personal favorite adaptation is the BBC’s Sherlock, which is truly a phenomenal piece of art and a great demonstration of just who the characters could be. It’s set in the modern world but follows the personalities of the original characters well, with an always present twist on them to make them seem fresh and relevant.
For a glimpse, check out this snipped of Sherlock’s first meeting with Irene Adler: