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In December 1893, Sherlock Holmes-adoring Londoners eagerly opened their Strand magazines, anticipating the detective's next adventure, only to find the unthinkable: his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had killed their hero off. London spiraled into mourning -- crowds sported black armbands in grief -- and railed against Conan Doyle as his assassin.

Then in 1901, just as abruptly as Conan Doyle had "murdered" Holmes in "The Final Problem," he resurrected him. Though the writer kept detailed diaries of his days and work, Conan Doyle never explained this sudden change of heart. After his death, one of his journals from the interim period was discovered to be missing, and in the decades since, has never been found.

Or has it?

When literary researcher Harold White is inducted into the preeminent Sherlock Holmes enthusiast society, The Baker Street Irregulars, he never imagines he's about to be thrust onto the hunt for the holy grail of Holmes-ophiles: the missing diary. But when the world's leading Doylean scholar is found murdered in his hotel room, it is Harold - using wisdom and methods gleaned from countless detective stories - who takes up the search, both for the diary and for the killer.

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    A first novel by Graham Moore, The Sherlockian is based loosely on the bizarre 2004 death of Richard Lancelot Green, a famous Sherlock Holmes scholar who will be remembered for his many contributions to anthologies of Holmes pastiches and "rivals" including books and TV series The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Harold White, a late 20s-something Sherlockian (he wears a deerstalker cap in public ...), has befriended Alex Cale, the world's foremost Sherlock Holmes scholar who dies mysteriously in his New York hotel room during a meeting of the Irregulars. Harold investigates the murder, funded by Simon Conan Doyle, and is accompanied by Sarah Lindsay, a budding journalist hoping to break a great story. Cale allegedly found the sole missing Arthur Conan Doyle diary and his murder (?) appears linked to the lost then found now missing diary. The trail quickly leads to London; several famous Holmes settings are visited. Chapters alternate between Harold's pursuit of the diary and the life and goings on of Arthur Conan Doyle during the missing weeks of the diary. Doyle was a good friend of Bram Stoker and, like Sarah for Harold, Stoker plays Watson to Doyle's Holmes as the author assists Scotland Yard in uncovering the murder of young women in London. Moore has devised a splendid plot and has steeped the novel in twists and enough Sherlockiana to make a "cracking good read". Moore's weakness is in character development and never quite manages to breath life into any of them, although several players add delightful colour. Occasionally, the author rises above himself and delivers some moving insights into the end of the an era that Holmes inhabited, using the deployment of electric lights on London streets as metaphor.


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