Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Valley of Fear (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

The Valley of Fear
(A Sherlock Holmes novel, Book 4)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Public Domain Books
Fiction, Mystery
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: A cryptic message from a long-time informant sends the great London detective Sherlock Holmes to rustic Birlstone, where a horrific murder has just occurred. But something quite peculiar is going on in the household of the late John Douglas, the culmination of a decade-old vendetta from halfway around the world - a vendetta aided and abetted by none other than Professor Moriarty himself.

REVIEW: This was the last full-length Sherlock Holmes novel written by Doyle, inspired by the infamous Molly Maguires, a secret society of immigrant coal workers in America. Like other Holmes stories, this book establishes a number of singular characters and a perplexing puzzle for Holmes to unravel. Also like other Holmes stories, it revels in long tangents into back-stories. The tangents here seem unnecessarily long and repetitive, however; I'm quite sure they could have made their point with a third less page count. The narration also deliberately withholds vital information, not just in the workings of Sherlock's inscrutable mind (which is usually a black box unless he chooses to explain himself to his archivist, Doctor Watson.) The ending made the events, and the effort spent solving the mystery, seem futile. While not a bad story by any means, I didn't find it as satisfying to read as previous Sherlock Holmes novels.

You Might Also Enjoy:
A Study in Scarlet (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) - My Review
The Ruby in the Smoke (Philip Pullman) - My Review
Sherlock: Season One - Amazon DVD link

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