- Paperback: 330 pages
- Publisher: Foolscap & Quill (May 20, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 193814306X
- ISBN-13: 978-1938143069
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,441,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part I: University Paperback – May 20, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
University, the first of the sequel trilogy, is absolutely wonderful. It begins right where The Crack in the Lens leaves off, and follows through Holmes's college time. Through the novel, we see the changes that take place in Holmes's character, bringing him from a young man, violently affected by the events in the previous novel, to a capable, passionate adult who will soon fully transform into the detective we all admire so much.
Honestly, once again, I can't praise this book enough, but I don't want to write too much and spoil key plot points, either for this one or the one before it. All I can say is, go read it. This one, and its predecessor are must-have's for any Holmes collector.
Looked at in retrospect, this book is remarkable. While reading it, there seems to be action proceeding all the time, but after it is finished, the reader realizes that the `action' was mostly internal. Events occur, but most of the narrative is taken up with Sherlock's reactions and adaptations to those events. Again, while reading, worlds of possibilities open up and all sorts of consequences become possible, but really, only fairly normal things actually occur. It is a truly remarkable narrative that rings with possibilities and yet makes the events described seem to be natural outcomes of the situations. This makes it difficult to review.
I could say that the action is riveting, as it was, but there is really little action. I could say that the characters are fascinating, which they are, but most appear and then disappear, leaving their interactions with Sherlock as the only evidence of their existence. The relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft remains the same as it ever was, but it seems fuller and richer as we learn of how they shared experiences and learned from one another. So it is with the entire book. Sherlock learns to cope with stress and guilt, he learns to react to the world and he learns about himself.
Sherlock's relations with his parents and his brothers are looked at a bit more closely, but they remain much the same as before. Sherlock's relations with the world, on the other hand, grow and develop. He learns to participate more and to observe without judging so deeply. He also learns how to learn. The process is painful, but so is any growth. The Sherlock who leaves Cambridge at the end of this book is far different than the one who arrived. He is not yet a `finished tool' but he has the process well in hand. Most of the details have been made fascinating by the author, so the book is a very `good read.'
Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, June 2012
There are some struggles that are never really over. Whether they have their roots in events, our own peculiar demons, or some unholy combination of the two, we are destined to fight and refight these battles throughout our lives. The ghosts of 1871 revisit Sherlock with a vengeance, taking him on a terrifying, dangerous journey through his unresolved guilt and grief, his only hope of recovery lying in the meager treatments available at the time. He doesn't fight alone. Mycroft, the alienist Dr. George Mackenzie, university staff such as Senior Tutor Rev. John Clowe, Victor Trevor and his prescient father; and, most of all, Jonathan Beckwith, provide him with invaluable support. Still, in the end, it is Sherlock Holmes himself who discovers the one antidote which will keep his mind from "tearing itself to pieces."
Perhaps in no small measure to Dr. Watson's own efforts, we often come to see Sherlock Holmes as someone not quite human. In his efforts to chronicle the detective's exploits and (let's be honest) sell stories, Holmes' admiring Boswell sacrifices a bit of his flatmate's humanity in the telling. Ms. Cypser's Holmes, however, is extremely relatable. Unlike other writers who take on the project of exploring Sherlock Holmes' unrecorded youth, she doesn't bring in unusual characters or spectacular adventures. Sherlock's dilemmas are, instead, familiar to all of us. He wonders how to reconcile his skills and interests with the courses and careers available to him. He has difficulty making friends and runs afoul of a student known for his ability to destroy reputations with a few well-placed rumors. He tangles with authority, both academic and familial, building the confidence he needs to make that final, necessary break. In the second half of the book, he begins to try his hand at detective work, but his "cases" are such as one might expect to find in a university setting. Most importantly, however, he grapples with the puzzle of his own mind. None of this is spelled out for the reader. Instead, Ms. Cypser skillfully and subtly takes the events of Sherlock's university career and, just as she did in The Crack in the Lens, leaves it for the reader to deduce how they helped to create the detective of Baker Street.
Like its predecessor, University stands up well to re-reading. As a matter of fact, the reading upon which I am basing this review is my fourth-since April. University is impressively well-researched and documented; several characters are based on actual people, and there is an essay on sources in the back of the book. When it comes time for Holmes to spend time with Victor Trevor and his father at Donnithorpe-a crucial event which Watson records as "The Gloria Scott"-canon and book are expertly combined. Holmes' world is vividly drawn and compelling; once you enter, you won't want to leave.What I loved most about University, however, was the suspense. Although I enjoyed The Crack in the Lens immensely, there were times when I wondered why a particular scene was included and, for me, this slowed down the story. University presents no such problems. Every scene has an ultimate purpose, and nothing is wasted. I was pulled in from the first, and had no desire to resurface. During one particularly suspenseful chapter (there are several), I found myself beginning to worry about Sherlock-then realized with a start that *spoiler alert* the very existence of the canon meant that he would be able to fight his way through. My advice? Forget chores, ignore the laundry, order takeout for dinner and just settle in for the ride. You'll miss it when it's over.