July’s Meetup: The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Sunday afternoon was another pleasant day spent with the Litwits.  Our July selection was a debut mystery novel by Graham Moore and really the epitome of fun, summer read.  The turnout to the discussion was great and members definitely had opinions.  So what did the Litwits think?

First, The Sherlockian is a dual narrative tale of Arthur Conan Doyle and his creation, Sherlock Holmes.  The present day story line follows, Harold, the newest member of the most elite Sherlockian society.  The Sherlockians have gathered at the request of one of the group’s scholar’s who claims to have finally found Doyle’s long, lost diary.  Before he can unveil this much sought after treasure, Harold and friends find his dead body locked away in his hotel room.  Harold sets off to uncover the mystery of the murder and the diary.

The second narrative follows Arthur Conan Doyle himself as he deals with the aftermath of killing off England’s beloved Sherlock Holmes, a murder mystery of his own, and the eventual return of Sherlock Holmes when Doyle is finally convinced to raise his nemesis from the grave.  Doyle is assisted by his lovable best pal, Bram Stoker, as a sort of Watson to his Holmes.

Most of the ladies thoroughly enjoyed their time spent with The Sherlockian as sort of a fun mystery summertime read that didn’t require too much brain activity.  Without a doubt, the Doyle narrative was the hands down favorite and far more interesting than the present day tale.  We also really enjoyed getting to know Doyle a bit better as well as his friendship with Stoker (which is all true facts).  Throw in the additional discussion of Oscar Wilde and the book-loving Litwits were pleased.  I think everyone also really enjoyed their time spent in Victorian England and felt that Moore does a superb job of fleshing out the England of yesteryear.

As mentioned earlier, the present day narrative left us a bit wanting.  Harold comes off as a kind of bumbling protagonist and hokey detective.  Everyone agreed that no one in the modern timeline was memorable – we didn’t care about any of the characters.  Complaints were also shared about the outcomes of the mysteries and the whodunits.  The ‘killers’ kind of came out of left field and lots of plot holes were left unplugged.  A couple of members expressed their ire over wonky historical facts, as well.

Overall, the Litwits are towing the middle road here.  This novel is not great literature, but a decent debut mystery novel.  We definitely left with the yearning to read some Holmes, some Stoker, and even a little Christie.  We enjoyed Doyle’s perspective and loved learning about his mystery writing rules.  Bram Stoker stole our hearts and we vowed to get to know him better.  We thought the Sherlockians were a little cooky which led us to discuss such modern day phenomena as Comic Con and Dragon Con.  And really, a great, lively discussion was had and everyone went home happy (at least, I think so!).

Next month is Gone with the Wind!  Some Litwits are excited, some not so much.  Can’t wait to see what everyone thinks and I’m super surprised at how many have never read this book!

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