I had been wanting to read this for some time, and am enjoying it, but the audio portion was apparently converted from an ancient audiotape and the qu..Show More »ality is bad. At times it sounds like two tracks are running at the same time, one slightly ahead of the other.
I went through these out of order, so I can now say that to my mind the three books in this series get progressively better. This one, being the midd..Show More »le book, is average... just average... really average. But not without merit as the characters are personified to the hilt. Holmes meets up with the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker as the quest to catch a critic's killer unfolds. The mystery presented here is considerably better than the other two books in all honesty, but that mystery at times seems to take second stage to the characters themselves. If it were written as a parody rather than as pastiche, I'd say it actually feels more like one of those old Scooby Doo cartoons where the gang meets up with the likes of Don Knotts or Cass Elliott, but thankfully this is written with the tone of a Sherlock Holmes story. If nothing else, the grand finale is suitable to nudge the overall quality to just above average.
I have nothing but respect overall for Nicholas Meyer as a writer, but this one being written within short order of The Seven Per-Cent Solution (which I loathe as a story), I was a bit worried. Now I can see the progression of how these were written, and if nothing else, I can see where he improved and where he still needs work. Ultimately I think in the case of all three of these, the biggest problem is the incorporation of the famous people and characters as it does come across more as fan fiction than a serious attempt at Holmes stories from a professional. But that's just my personal bias as a self-proclaimed Sherlockian. Disagreement will always abound about such things, and if nothing else it's always interesting to compare similar offerings by other writers.
There are a number of different takes on Sherlock Holmes these days, and few of them try to capture the character and spirit of storytelling as set do..Show More »wn by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II, Star Trek VI, Time After Time) not only gives us a story that demonstrates a superior understanding and respect of the Great Detective, but he also gives us a slightly alternate retelling of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera. The result is a loyal and respectful pastiche that, quite frankly, made me laugh, perhaps inappropriately at how effortless this novel seemed to work, and applaud at all the little character moments that were so very close to spot-on.
The concept is that in the late 20th century (when the story is written), the untyped and nearly illegible manuscript of Dr. Watson is found, relating the story as told to him by Holmes during his beekeeping retirement days. The story itself occurs in the wake of the Great Detective's "death" at the Reichenbach Falls, where he decides that after such an ordeal, he needed a holiday. From here, he joins the orchestra at the Paris Opera as a violinist, encounters "The Woman" Irene Adler (who is written equally as perfectly as Holmes), and finds himself going toe-to-toe with the Opera Ghost. The Phantom is written not quite as perfectly, but he's suitable, as is Christine, and Raoul comes across as a quite the weenie. I don't think that part will matter so much to most readers. It's the weaknesses on the Phantom side of the story that prevents me from giving this 5 stars, but that's only because I know the original story inside and out. This version still works well. The "flaws" and liberalities taken with the story here and there are minor and serve to drive the narrative, but even then, the tale unfolds closer to Leroux's original than many other versions you might be able to name. I doubt most would notice, but those who are familiar with the stories and characters will find it easily dismissed because it is so minor. For example, Gaston Leroux himself is the orchestra conductor.
To be certain, this tale is pure fan wank, the kind of thing you can find plastered all over the internet in the form of bad fan fiction. The big difference, however, is that Meyer's hands are the hands of a talented and professional writer who demonstrates a mastery of his craft. More than that, he's one who respects the characters, stories, and prose forms of his inspirations. The result is an assured delight for those like myself who absolutely love both Holmes and the Phantom.
Narrator David Case pretty much nails the idea of what this story would sound like in the collective imagination. His Holmes, who narrates most of the story, is properly self-superior and intemperate. Likewise, Watson is... well, he's Watson, offering up the counterpoint to Holmes in the limited capacity he's able to, given that he's not in on the adventure itself. He even does a suitable job with the various accents and female roles, offering quite the performance all around. Even though I started with the 3rd one, I'm looking forward to going back and hearing the other 2 books in the series.