Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Baker Street Letters

I barely read at all on vacation (I know, go ahead and be shocked), but I did finish one book on the trip down there.  I read The Baker Street Letters, a book I'd been looking forward to for quite a while.  I am a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes books and so I thought that this story of two brothers who own offices where Sherlock Holmes "lived" would be right up my alley.

Here's the basic plot: Reggie and Nigel Heath are two brothers who are radically different.  Nigel, the younger brother, is a lawyer who is slightly mentally unstable.  After a month in a mental hospital, Nigel is back, working in an underling position for his big brother, Reggie, a very successful lawyer.  Nigel discovers letters from an 8 year old girl in Los Angeles, written to Sherlock Holmes, asking for help finding her missing father.  Nigel sets off on a wild goose chase, with Reggie close behind.

Doesn't that sound good?  Well, it was kind of a flop.  Michael Robertson, the author, is one of those people who don't sound entirely comfortable with writing.  The sentences were often a bit cumbersome and the experiences of the main characters felt rather contrived at times.  He also took far too long getting to the actual mystery, with lengthy chapters that delved into Reggie's supposedly complex emotional life.  I found myself alternating between yawning and the occasional eye roll.  In short, the book wasn't very well written.

It also had the fault of being not very Sherlockian.  There were no references to past stories, no links to things about Sherlock, except for the obvious connection of having the same address.  That's not enough, in my opinion, to warrant calling this a Sherlock spinoff or even a book inspired by Sherlock Holmes.  That clever way of solving mysteries through observation that Sherlock had was completely lost in this book.

But it isn't like this book doesn't have redeeming qualities.  Robertson does have the ability to write wryly and with a sly humor that could be very enjoyable.  I liked that Reggie and Nigel were both fully human people with understandable faults.  But that's about all the good I can find to say about this book.

So maybe I wasn't in the right mood for this book, but it's definitely not the kind of book where I want to immediately find the other books and read the rest of the series.  I'm wondering if this book will settle in my mind so that I remember it with fonder thoughts.  If so, I'll let you all know.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for steering me away from this one. I was interested but it sounds less than compelling now.

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    1. Yeah, I'd avoid this unless you have reading something else by this author that you absolutely loved.

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