August 7, 2013

Book: The Moor by Laurie R King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:17 pm

imageLaurie R King is known for writing Sherlock Holmes stories, adopting the detective and writing about the same period as Sherlock did. This is one of the books she has written with the famous fictional detective in the lead.

My first thought on that subject is that Sherlock must be an irresistible obsession for many writers. And I am not about the numerous TV and film versions of the Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories but about other writers adopting him as the central character in their modern tales.

Apart from the British Sherlock Holmes series where he lives in the modern world and uses Iphones etc but solves crimes in his inimitable way, there  is the series where Dr Watson is a female (Lucy Liu) and then this series. And don’t get me started on the James Bond like Sherlock movies played by Robert Downey Jr where his entire modus operandi is confused with Mission Impossible II or James Bond!


This book is also weird, in the sense that James Bond does not use his famous and amazing powers of deduction. You do not get the sense of stunning astonishment you get when you read the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. Instead, he behaves like just any other detective and even the narration in this book is by Mary Russell, who is his wife.


Wait, what? A wife? If you read the first book first sentence of the Arthur Conan Doyle series, you know that Sherlock has no interest in women and positively likes to live alone and does not like marriage. He, married? And even more weirdly, she seems to do all the work while he lazily contributes here and there – at least in this book!


The other interesting thing about this book is that it is related to the book the Hound of Baskervilles and even takes place in  the same place. Rev Sabine Baring-Gould makes an appearance and is revealed as the godfather of Holmes.


The story kind of takes off with Pethering, a man, mysteriously killed by an unknown assailant.  But sags immediately after!

The book is full of descriptions of Baring Gould’s books and Mary Russell’s interest in them. Then Mary goes on a pony and goes round and round the village, swamps and toher places. Holmes himself dashes here and there, full of energy as in original books but accomplishing apparently little unlike the original books. No brilliant detection to be found anywhere.

They trash talk the original books too (Dr Watson was old and feeble and was inaccurate in many places in his narration apparently)


Finally when the mystery is revealed, we find out that Mary resolves the issue as fast as Holmes could.  Well, there you go. It is a Mary Russell book, with Sherlock as a side character, really.


What passes for humour is Mary Russell being thrown into mud repeatedly by the pony in her peregrinations.


The story is populated by a rich American, Richard Ketteridge, who bought Baskerville Hall bought and kitted out with modern amenities like electric bulbs, and his assistant David Scheiman who falls in love with the descendent of the original Baskerville family.


Holmes has the trademark pipe but no mention of cap – the other trademark. But then, I have bigger problems with the portrayal of Holmes,  as I mentioned above


The dog and the carriage make an appearance again in this book. About the only intereting thing in this book – at least to me – is the “dog talk” with the culprit at the end by Holmes. Too little too late? Yes!


I will give it a 2/10


— Krishna


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