Another resurrection of Sherlockiana, the conceit here being the story of tracking down Arthur Conan Doyle’s missing journal from 1900—and solving a murder associated with the journal.
Owing to a couple of scholarly articles on Sherlock Holmes, Harold White has just been inducted into the famous but secretive Sherlockian society; at 29 he’s one of the youngest members ever invited to join. A game’s afoot, however, for Alex Cale, perhaps the most prominent Sherlockian of all, has recently announced that he’s found Conan Doyle’s famous missing journal. His plan is to reveal the contents at the annual meeting of the Sherlockians at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, but Cale is found murdered, with the word “Elementary” written on the wall near his body. White decides to solve both the case of the missing journal and Cale’s murder. In his investigation he’s abetted by Sebastian Conan Doyle, the great-grandson of the author himself (who feels he’s the rightful owner of the journal), and Sarah, a reporter bent on following White because she’s sure he has the best chance of finding the journal and solving the mystery of Cale’s death. Throughout the narrative White’s mantra is “What would Sherlock Holmes do?” and his answers to this question lead him from New York to London to Cambridge and finally to the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, the site of Holmes’s putative death. Moore cleverly alternates his chapters between White’s story in the present and Conan Doyle’s activities in the fall of 1900, so the reader can better understand the reasons why Conan Doyle—or more likely his friend Bram Stoker—would want to suppress the journal. Along the way, Stoker winds up playing Watson to Conan Doyle, much as Sarah becomes a Watson figure to White.
While occasionally heavy-handed and coincidental, Moore’s fiction provides a shrewd take on the noted author and his legendary scion.