A retelling of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 classic The Count of Monte Cristo that continues the story of Edmond Dantès.
The pseudonymous Holy Ghost Writer (The Count of Monte Cristo as Retold by Sherlock Holmes, 2013, etc.) offers 245 pages of new adventures for Dantès, aka the Count of Monte Cristo, narrated by Arthur Conan Doyle’s equally classic detective Sherlock Holmes (with a guest appearance by Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn). The new material, enough for a stand-alone novel by itself, is preceded by a 571-page recap of Dumas’ original novel, also narrated by Holmes. Given that the original is widely available in print and digital form, it’s hard to imagine why one would want to read a version that eliminates Dumas’ color and description. Holmes’ voice often sounds more like a 21st-century man’s (“Mercedes had no idea that [Fernand] was caught up in the thing with Edmond”) than Doyle’s meticulous, cerebral hero’s. The new material has Holmes befriending the much older Dantès and becoming embroiled in his life in the antebellum American South. Dantès is urged to go there by a mysterious, disembodied voice, which also advises him to buy a plantation and then free his slaves in order to show his neighbors that treating workers humanely gets better results than cruelty. The continuation also endows Dantès with not one, but two wives—Haydee and Mercedes from the original tale—and a passing liaison with a Bedouin girl, Raymee, produces twins. There’s also Black Beauty, an erstwhile slave whose son is widely assumed to be Dantès’; in fact, Holmes is his father. However, the plot never quite gets going, as the novel turns out to be merely a setup for a yet-to-be-published volume in which Dantès will prove to be the guiding force behind the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves. The author also reveals that Dantès is the inventor of dry ice, Epsom salts and the greenhouse; the co-founder of Yale University’s legendary Skull and Bones Club; and a descendant of King Solomon, Jesus and the Merovingian kings. It effectively turns Dantès from a flawed hero who realizes too late the price of revenge to a two-dimensional uber-mensch.
A long, unwieldy novel that recapitulates a story told better by its original author, with a final third setting up a story that remains to be told.