Won on First Reads! and I can’t wait til it arrives—I’m a great fan of Sherlock Holmes and am definitely crossing my fingers.
Maybe I should round up, but I’m trying to be as scrupulously honest as possible, and I think I liked it less than ‘really’.
The Consulting Detective Part I describes the university years of Sherlock Holmes (I’m sure you never would have guessed). It is less of a standalone novel than I’d supposed. Though The Crack in the Lens was described as a prequel, TCDpI continues directly after the events of that novel, and there’s little catch-up for new readers.
As a long-term fan fiction reader, I’m not sure how much this will throw off the average reader.
To sum up as best I can without spoilers, Sherlock survived a traumatic event back home, that left him ill and mentally fragile. By the time TCDpI takes place, he’s mostly recovered, but his convalescence is long, and he needs to decide what to do with his life.
The ‘in media res’ beginning cause some confusion for the reader, mostly in the lack of description: for instance I didn’t know Sherlock’s servant, Jonathan, was only 13 until chapter 4.
I’m not sure this book should be described as a “trilogy”. While it covers only one era of Sherlock’s life, there’s not a strong plot thread—it’s more an overall plot arc, told through an episodic structure. For the most part, I enjoyed the breadth of his experiences, as all these different events do show the growth of his character effectively.
The characters were fun. Sherrinford, Sherlock’s mother and father, Jonathan, all felt rather thin. However, I loved Mycroft; every time he showed up he right on point, exactly right. Since many writers seem to struggle with his character, I especially appreciated his few brief appearances. One character, a Lord Cecil, is the standard bully in any school story; though he and Sherlock rarely interact, so it doesn’t overwhelm Sherlock’s story. Cecil is also a self-aware jerk, and frankly I liked him better than way, but then he’s reformed.
The prose was workmanlike, for the most part. Cypserstruggles with integrated dialogue and exposition into the story. However,she clearly did her research, and there were several surprising details. I did notice a few problems with typos and run on sentences, but not too disruptive.
My favorite part is that in some ways, Sherlock makes some dumb decisions and lots of mistakes. He lacks much of his later self-control. Knowing Sherlock almost entirely through Watson (who, honestly, is my favorite), that sounds a little odd, but it makes sense for such a young man, and it’s never out of character, especially for the back story we’re given. Sometimes he veers toward melodrama, but not for long, and especially as he recovers and events pick up, most of that goes away.
Overall, if you like Sherlock Holmes pastiches, and are interested in a logical Sherlockian back story, I’d definitely recommend this novel!