Saturday, 3 March 2012

Book 13 of 2012: The Scroll of the Dead

Here you go Mark, this one's for you ;-)

For Christmas, I padded out Mr. Click's stocking with a couple of The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes books, both by David Stuart Davies. It was actually one of these books that we first spotted when we discovered this series of Sherlock Holmes stories written by contemporary authors. They've mostly been published before, but they've been attractively re-packaged in matching covers (so they look nice and snazzy on our bookcase).

The first of the two that Mr. Click read was The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Scroll of the Dead and when he finished with it in February, I picked it up myself.
Last year I read a book of short stories, all in a similar vein to the Further Adventures books, called The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and one of the main factors influencing whether or not I enjoyed a story was the tone it was written in. Some of the stories felt like they could have been written by Conan Doyle; others felt like they fell short of the mark somehow, like you could switch out the characters names and you wouldn't miss out on anything in the story. I remember one in the book which completely pulled me out of the story because Watson referred to his waste paper basket  as a 'trash can', it's silly, but something as simple as that can spoil an otherwise okay story.

The Scroll of the Dead largely felt like it could have been written by Conan Doyle, with the exception of a couple of places where information which Watson wouldn't have known had been added in. Though there was a slight disclaimer at the beginning of the story which explained that he had included information which he had learned later on. Without that little note, I probably would have been irritated by the extra information, but because I was expecting them, I accepted it without complaint.

I did find the actual plot a little bit tricky to follow in places. It was quite a convoluted case, but I followed what was going on well enough. I did read it quite quickly, so I wonder if perhaps I missed something because I was reading it late at night and early in the morning when I was probably not really with it, hehe.

It wasn't the sort of case which I could solve as I went along. I remember being thrilled when I was reading The Adventure of the Lion's Mane and figuring out what had happened way at the beginning of the story (mainly because of the title). It was kind of nice to sit feeling smug while the great detective himself was still puzzling it out. In The Scroll of the Dead, I didn't feel like I could work it out by myself. It more a case of sitting back and watching the action, rather than getting involved with it myself.

All that aside, it was well written and it ended well. I'm quite looking forward to reading the other one I bough for Mr. Click (just as soon as he's finished Moriarty and providing he doesn't decide to go on and read the Colin Dexter set he's had sitting on our bookcase for several months now).
"Fate has a strange way of creating a series of events which initially appear to be in no way connected and yet which, with hindsight, can be discerned as cunning links in an arcane chain. My friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes, was usually very astute not only in observing, but also in predicting these matters."
Page 9


  1. Aw thank you! Hehe

    I do agree these books are packaged rather beautifully and snazzily. It's just a shame some of them fall a little short of the mark.

    I know just what you mean, if I'm reading a Holmes story then I expect it to be similar to Conan Doyle. 'Trash Can' would have pulled me right out of there too!

    There's one book in this series which was written in the 70s and features Tarzan, Earl of Greystoke that is nothing but a spoof. It is intentionally nothing like Conan Doyle and has Holmes and Watson swearing and generally acting unbelievable. I haven't read it myself but it's one I'm most certainly wary of given this info, whilst at the same time strangely intrigued!

  2. Nice review of the book.

    I liked 'The House of Silk' by Anthony Horowitz. Check out my review .



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