The Consulting Detective Trilogy Part I: University Paperback – May 20, 2012
Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
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.
Top international reviews
In all fairness the book is competently written - but that's about it. Story? What story. I manfully ploughed a furrow through this book all the time wondering when something was going to happen that vaguely reminded me of the great detective himself. I confess that I fell at the half way mark having failed to find anything that could possibly pique the interest of anyone familiar with the original Cannon. Maybe I should have marched onward to the end. Maybe just after the halfway mark a ray of light would burst through and we would stumble onto something that resembled a story and a plot.
Certainly up to the half way point all we get is a boring ramble through cod psychology vainly attempting to tell us how Sherlock became a cocaine addict because of a trauma in his late teens. God, it's crap. In effect we just have a bad version of a book justifying counselling.
If you have any love of the great fictional detective at all, then please save yourself five quid. If you want to inflict this much pain on yourself just go find a ball pein hammer and give your thumbs a good whack. Then take the five quid down the pub and by a couple of pints to salve the hurt.