Conan Doyle, Arthur: (07) The Valley of Fear

I picked up the next Sherlock Holmes novel on my list, The Valley of Fear, because it seemed like it would be a good soothing read in times of uncertainty. As far as that went, it worked okay, but it really wasn’t that good a book. It started out in a promising fashion, with talk of Moriarty (obviously, this is a prequel), but shortly devolves into a fairly predictable murder mystery. I don’t know if Doyle was being really obvious, or I’m getting used to how Holmes stories work, but I was with Holmes all the way on the deductions. And then, once the murder is solved, we head into a long backstory exposition, chock full of lurid secret societies and star-crossed lovers and ocean-spanning vengeance. Excuse me, but we’ve done this already, and it wasn’t all that good in A Study in Scarlet, either.

*sigh* I want more Moriarty, and I’m not going to get it, at least not in Doyle’s works.


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  1. And this is why Holmes pastiches are so numerous. 🙂

    Maybe find a really good pastiche as a substitute? Neil Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald” will be coming out in Shadows Over Baker Street (a Holmes-Cthulu anthology). And there’s always Saberhagen’s The Holmes/Dracula File, Nicholas Meyer’s The Seven Percent Solution, and Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, along with legions of others.

    Although, now that I look at this list, it’s amazing how so few pastiches are actually strict Holmes stories along Holmesian lines…

  2. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is on my list, definitely, but I figured I should finish canon first.

    I might also try those Carol Nelson Douglas books, though when I flipped through one in the bookstore, I wasn’t impressed by the voice.

    A pastiche I’m fond of is by Stephen King, in which Watson solves a case before Holmes. It’s in Nightmares and Dreamscapes.

  3. Yeah, with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice you’re going to need a fair amount of the canon under your belt. And the first of the Douglas series (which I enjoyed but promptly forgot and do not recommend out of hand) weaves through some of the storise as well. Turning Irene Adler into a detective (not to mention a soprano) makes no character-logic to me, and nearly every pastiche that’s centered around her tends to do both things.

    Another Holmes pastiche I like is a YA title, The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars, by Robert Newman (Merlin’s Mistake, The Testing of Tertius).

    Thanks for pointing out the Stephen King story!

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