Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"the reichenbach problem" by martin allison booth

About the book (from the publisher): Arthur Conan Doyle is on the run from his own fame. Taking a much-needed holiday, Doyle escapes to a picturesque village in Switzerland nestled beneath the imposing Reichenbach Falls. There he hopes to find anonymity, but even in this beautiful rural setting, peace eludes him when he finds himself immediately recognized and involved in the investigation of a mysterious death of a fellow traveler.

All too soon, Doyle's somewhat unwilling, gentle probing into the case causes the finger of suspicion to turn towards him. But can the creator of the famous detective actually do the sleuthing himself? As Doyle learns more and more about the famous character he penned, he finds he is less like Sherlock and more like his sidekick, Watson. Can the "sidekick" see enough of the picture to solve the case for once?

Sherlock Holmes has fascinated readers since he first burst into fiction, over one hundred years ago. In this novel, the first in a trilogy, we meet his author and discover the difficult relationship between them.

My take: As a casual fan of Sherlock Holmes (as in I enjoyed the recent films and love Sherlock, but I never read any of the actual novels), I was quite interested in this novel, which is a story centered around Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

As the book began, it seemed quite promising. Soon, however, I found it difficult to keep reading, as I just didn't connect with the characters or the plot. I often questioned why Conan Doyle, writer of the intricate Holmes mysteries, would make such stupid decisions and let others basically control him. About 2/3 of the way through the book, the action picked up immensely, and I did find myself interested. But then the resolution seemed too out-of-the-blue, and I lost interest again. As I read the final pages, I did so with great enthusiasm simply because I knew I was nearing the end. The last chapters did hold a bit of a gem, however, as Conan Doyle came to the decision to kill off Holmes (at least temporarily)—an event that even casual fans like myself will recognize.

At one point, I did wonder if this might make a great Masterpiece or BBC production—the idea is quite intriguing, and I think I'd have enjoyed it more had I been watching it unfold, rather than reading about it. This would make sense, as the author is a former script writer.

Diehard Holmes fans may enjoy this book, but it certainly wasn't the book for me.

My rating: 2 stars

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About the author: Martin Allison Booth, a Conan Doyle fan for as long as he can remember, had a long and successful career in broadcasting, working as a script writer, editor, producer, and commissioning executive for both the BBC and ITV. He is now a parish priest.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also some of the links on this page are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase a product, I will receive a commission.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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