Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Moonstone Curse - Sam Siciliano

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review


Release Date: 14.02.17

Publisher: Titan Books

ISBN: 978-1785652523

Format: Paperback, 320pp

Genre: Crime/Detective Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5

Summed up in a word:
Imitative

First Impressions: I have really been enjoying reading these Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes books from Titan Books. They each offer a new perspective on a familiar character, though not all these versions are winners. The Moonstone's Curse is an enjoyable mystery novel, but the drastic changes to the continuity in Sherlock Holmes' universe were far to much for me. The absence of Watson, a kinder more emotionally open Sherlock and focus on sex and romance didn't sit right with myself. Thank you to Titan for sending me this review copy. Please check out their other releases here http://titanbooks.com/


Book Synopsis
The aristocratic Charles Bromley arrives at 221B Baker Street to beg SHERLOCK HOLMES for his help. Bromley believes that his wife is in danger, as she has refused an offer to sell the Moonstone, a fabulous diamond that has been in her family for generations but which is said to be cursed. When a jeweller is found murdered, it seems as if the Moonstone deserves its reputation. Then the diamond is stolen, and Holmes must try to unravel a mystery centuries in the making. (Official Synopsis)

The Review - An interesting mystery combined with an emotionally supportive Sherlock Holmes and a Watson shaped hole...

I have been really enjoying the continuation of the Sherlock Holmes story-line and each authors different take on the famous detective. Personally I felt that The Moonstone Curse was too much of a departure from the kind of Sherlock Holmes novel I enjoy. This is mostly a continuation of Sam Siciliano's favourite novel The Moonstone with a Sherlock Holmes coating. The plot centres around the possible theft of the Moonstone Diamond, a gem stolen generations ago and handed down through Alice Bromley's family tree. The Bromley's are concerned about the jewel being stolen and have asked Sherlock to investigate who would want to steal the diamond  and how they might achieve that goal.

I thought the Moonstone Diamond plotline was good, a well rounded mystery with many different elements and characters. Did it need to be a Sherlock Holmes novel...? No it did not. I think Sam Siciliano's writing is an acquired taste. He focuses on romance, class, relationships and culture, which I can appreciate fully but just not as part of Sherlock Holmes' canon. Siciliano has crafted a decent plot with plenty of avenues of investigation. There is death, mystery and several quality plot twists to keep readers interested. I felt that rich people moaning about their first world problems slightly grating but it was all included to build atmosphere and connect the characters together. 

I didn't like the fact that Watson wasn't involved. He has driven away by Sherlock and replaced with his cousin, Dr Henry Vernier. Vernier is an alright companion, but he is more interested in bedding his wife than he is on figuring out the case. Finally, Sherlock is much more emotionally involved in The Moonstone Curse which I am not used too. There is very little back and forth between the two main characters which is a massive shame as I enjoyed the awkward dynamic that Holmes and Watson share.

There are some excellent and important themes included here. Duality; good vs evil. There is culture, religion, curses, handling sexism, jealousy and sexuality. I found myself guessing (wrongly...) all the way through, trying to get a head of the plot and figure it out. I also enjoyed the early 20th century pop culture references. Had this been a sequel to Siciliano's favourite novel The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (without the Sherlock veneer) then this would have been so much better. The constant and awkward comparisons that naturally occur between Sherlock novels makes The Moonstone Curse feel drastically out of place.

Overall, I think Siciliano's attempt to juggle the Sherlock lore, with the noticeable changes, and the continuation of Collins' The Moonstone was far too much for such a short novel. This book has done Sherlock Holmes no justice in my opinion. Luckily things that don't suit me will almost definitely suit plenty of other readers. If you are interested in mystery novels that are focused on culture and romance then this will be perfect for you. I have given The Moonstone Curse 2.5/5 because though I enjoyed about half of the novel, I spent the other half disappointed.

Pick up a copy of The Moonstone Curse here: Titan Books/Amazon UK/Goodreads 

About the Author (Official Bio): Early on, Sam Siciliano developed a taste for fantastical worlds better than the one he was stuck with. He grew up reading the golden-age juvenile science fiction of Heinlein and Andre Norton, the Mars and Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Baum's Oz books and Brooks' tales set on a New England farm where Freddy the Pig had his adventures.  And of course, last but not least was the London of Sherlock Holmes.  Siciliano has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa and did some college teaching, but because of the terrible academic job market, he worked many years in business as a database administrator. His reading tastes remain diverse, with a special fondness for genre fiction. Jane Austen may be his all time favorite author, the Victorian writers and Raymond Chandler his inspiration, but he is also a big fan of Tim Powers and Alastair Reynolds. 

Siciliano was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.  After undergraduate work at the University of Utah, he went on to the University of Iowa in Iowa City.  There he met and married fellow English graduate student Mary Slowik.  The two defended their dissertations, the last step in their doctorates, on the same memorable day.  They have raised three children and several cats together.  They attribute their long and happy marriage to the fact that neither of them believes in ironing. For more information head to: http://samsiciliano.net/index.html

2 comments:

  1. I can't imagine Sherlock without Watson!

    Another great review, keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks :) will do! Oh yeah it wasn't pleasant :/

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