Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu by Vasudev Murthy
Reviewed by Mary Hankins
When I started reading Vasudev Murthy’s Sherlock Holmes The Missing Years: Timbuktu (Poisoned Pen Press), I thought I was reading an unpublished work by Arthur Conan Doyle: the tone and voice was so like the original Dr. Watson, chronicling the life and adventures of his best friend Sherlock Holmes. This book claims to tell the tale of what happened to Sherlock Holmes after the night on Reichenbach Falls, when all the world believed the great detective and his nemesis to be dead.
This “true” story has Holmes working for the Vatican, sailing to Africa, and Watson pretending to be Holmes’ deaf, mute slave for a day, among other things. At the heart of it is an ancient document that potentially holds a secret that can overthrow the religious order. What about this document compelled the original owner to hide it from the world? Will Holmes and Watson reach it before tightening racial tensions lash out, catching them in the crossfire? And what does all of this have to do with the elusive Moriarty, still at large after Reichenbach?
Modern fans may find the book a bit hard to get through at first, especially if they are viewers of any of many different varieties of the men from Baker Street, from the BBC sensation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, to action-packed Guy Ritchie features, to the Americanized CBS show “Elementary,” where John Watson becomes a woman (Joan). Amidst all of these rather fantastical modern interpretations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, it is easy to forget that this brilliant, brawling, high-functioning sociopath first came to life in the late Victorian Era. And while he was always a loose cannon, Sherlock’s newest generation of fans may initially have trouble connecting with the tone and pacing of the original source material, and books faithfully written in its style.
Despite this, any true Sherlockian will find something to enjoy about this book. Vasudev Murthy’s imagination is truly astounding in his attention to detail, as adventure pulls the reader through the shadowy politics of turn of the century Africa, right along with the great Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend John Watson. It is worth the time and effort you invest to see how Sherlock manages to solve a great historical mystery, while out-thinking the scheming Moriarty, protecting new friends and allies, and pretending to be a monk all at once. Enjoy the latest addition to the Sherlockian universe!
Mary Hankins is a recent graduate of Lipscomb University. She is putting her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree to use in the Nashville community theatre scene. Loves God, her family and friends, and Phantom of the Opera—in that order.
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