I literally have no idea how to review this book. Even after talking LL's ear off about it, I'm still not sure how much I like and how much I hate this book.
First let me say, this was well written. Very well written. Since he wasn't trying to reprise Watson's style precisely, the narrator was given a chance to shine on his own. As this was in some ways set up differently from other Holmes stories, I didn't find it lacking though Chase is clearly at times all but riffing on the good doctor's style. The descriptions are amazing. One section in particular describes the docks of London better then any other book I've read. I could hear it, see the crowds of people and the plethora of goods, and even smell the stink. There were a few other segments like this but that one stood above the rest. The characters were engaging, memorable, and though plenteous, stood out enough to not become lost or overshadowed.
Fredrick Chase and Althelney Jones make a very interesting duo and I enjoyed getting to know them. I don't know that I can say that Holmes was missing from the book as his shadow/spirit seemed to hover over every conversation and occurrence, but Jones and Chase went a long way to keep the reader from missing him. They worked well together and it was interesting to see more of Scotland Yard then we normally do.
However (you knew it was coming), this gets the distinction of being the first book on my newest shelf: Sledgehammer mystery solving. I could have easily finished this book in a day but I kept stepping away because I couldn't take the stupid. We have a Pinkerton agent and Detective of Scotland Yard walking around and every new person they meet, every new situation, they almost immediately bring up the name of the American Napoleon of Crime. The guy hides in the shadows, you know what he does to people who get in his way, the people you ask aren't going to tell you anyway - are you trying to paint a target on yourselves? It's like playing a game of poker with your hand facing the other players. It's pointless and people in their positions wouldn't do this. I got to where I cringed every time the name came up, it was so idiotic. Caterers and librarians question suspects better then you and actually do detective work. The times when detective work happens, it's never shown. We only see the aftereffects...which are more pointless "We're looking for so and so!" (inaudible rage)
That is my review for the first two thirds of the book. It could be annoying but despite that, I was enjoying reading it. Then came THE TWIST. The whole book hinges on this and all the reviews we've looked at didn't even mention anything about it. I would...but quite frankly there are elements of it I want to address. So if you haven't read this book, I URGE you not to read this spoiler. This is a book you need to experience without foreknowledge. If you're looking at ratings, I can say that my rating of this book before this would only have been a half a star more.
So, here we go.
PopSugar Challenge: A book with a one-word title