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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sherlockian intrigue enters a new era!

Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy 

What is it about Sherlock Holmes--the pull of Sherlockian or Holmesian interpretations? We can't seem to get enough of him. And he appears everywhere, in print, in film, in television, all with differing perceptions of the man, the myth--and now we have the 'Missing Years'
It's 1893, approximately two years since Reichenbach Falls and Sherlock's death. Watson receives a note ostensibly from Sherlock asking him to go to Japan. Does he think twice? No, he goes!
On Board ship he meets a number of interesting people including the quiet and gentle Mr. Kazushi Hashimoto with whom he shares a cabin. The morning the ship docks in Alexandria, Watson awakes to find the small cabin window open and Mr. Hoshimoto dead. With another passenger, Mr. Shamsher Singh, Watson investigates how access might have been gained to the cabin. Watson himself appears to have slept through the incident, a restless sleep accompanied by strange dreams.
This is just the beginning of a diabolical plot that leads straight to Moriarty! The plot moves from Bombay to Vladivostok, across Asia to Japan. Three criminal gangs--Yakuza, the opium trade and economic domination are all part of the twist. Add to that the spectre of Moriaty and the cup is more than full--it doth overflow!  As Watson observes when Sherlock is recounting his time post the Falls, 'the whole thing was bewildering in its complexity.'
(Having just read a Laurie King novel about Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes partly set in Japan I was fascinated. Particularly as on their journey someone was killed in a locked cabin--and some other occurrences that whilst very different draw similar lines of arraignment. Fascinating!)
Watson's chronicles, and the inclusion of comments by other players, adds an interpretive account post the case, further illuminating events for us. Initially I didn't warm to this artifice but as time went on I appreciated Watson's little asides. The story took on its own reality. And those endless monographs! I do appreciate author Watson's humour with his running commentaries about Poisoned Pen Press.
Holmes and Watson's seemingly mad scramble across the southern asian continent is a wonderful mixture of pure Sherlockian intrigue that combines the heady excitement of new discoveries, be it the landscape and it's flora and fauna, cultural, architectural, scientific enquiries that Holmes is so focused on and delighted by, or escaping Moriaty's seekers in a variety of astonishing and heart stopping ways. It's here that I thought Sherlock Holmes--a precursor to Indiana Jones perhaps?
The culmination in Japan is bursting with possibilities, indeed the whole expanse of Holmes and Watson's journey is hectic, rapid and astonishing.
The forward by certainly Vasudev Murthy helps to focus attention upon the story telling possibilities inherent in Sherlock's missing years.  The further I delved into missing years chronicle by Watson, the more I was drawn into its dynamics.

A NetGalley ARC

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