When I heard this book was being written, I was ecstatic. Not only because I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan (though I tend to like what other writers do with him more than Doyle himself did - how could the creator of a character be so unable to see the worth of his own creation?), but also I am a fan of Anthony Horowitz's work in Foyle's War. LOVE IT! If you haven't seen it...go and watch it right now, you are missing out. So I knew, he would work hard to be true to originals and the time period. What did I think of it...well, let me tell you.
Horowitz captures Watson (and Doyle's voice) perfectly. You feel as if you are reading a story written at the time, rather than in the modern day...until he breaks it with his over explanation of things that readers of the day would not have needed, and therefore a writer of the time would not have included them (see below).
My biggest fear, that Watson would be closer to the Nigel Bruce version than the the one from the books, was completely unfounded. Instead, we see a strong man who stands solidly behind his eccentric and genius friend, despite said friend's sometimes rude and hurtful comments. Holmes is...Holmes. Brilliant, slightly crazy, eccentric (read often rude), and yet with a depth of human kindness that he hides from the world but is at the core of who he is and why he does what he does. The best scene, however, goes to Watson-hands down. When we discover he actually met ______ (That Man) before a certain event. The meeting was sublime and Watson truly shone.
Decently paced, with plenty of 221B interludes mixed with fact finding missions. The mystery was one the reader was capable of solving but smart enough that it was not mind-numbingly easy. The main reason why I didn't figure everything out was for the same reason this book does not rank 5 stars - what Horowitz dealt with. (see below)
The first issue I had were the breaks in the narrative caused by the author attempting to write a book set in the late 1800's in the modern day and realizing certain things that were common knowledge back then are Greek to modern readers. I can understand his reasons for explaining things in the narrative...except for the fact that after working so hard to make the book appear as if it were written back then, he completely and utterly ruins it by describing what Doyle and anyone of the time would never have even thought to explain. A better way to have handled this would have been to as the 'editor' place footnotes giving the needed information for the modern day readers. This would have perpetuated the idea that this was actually written by Watson and the narrative would have been more fluid and vastly improved. It might have been made worse by the fact that I personally didn't need any of his excess information because of other writings I have read from the time period.
And now on to my main issue. I'm not quite sure how to explain this without a) giving a lot away and b) treating the issue with less delicacy than the author did. I noticed early on that the author was potentially heading into areas of criminality that were uncomfortable and not something Doyle would have ever touched on nor been allowed to do so at the time. But I ignored it, because I really hoped it wasn't going where I thought it was going. Well, it did. The ultimate issue deals with really dark themes, some of them concerning a younger and more helpless portion of society. While I'm fairly sure that something akin to this was going on somewhere during that time, it was not at all what I was expecting a book commissioned by the Doyle foundation to contain. Now I will admit, Horowitz deals with the whole situation with a delicacy that rivals those of the writers of the Victorian era. It came out much more...sanitary and handled delicately than I would have ever believed possible. However, I felt the need to warn my father, who had also long looked forward to this book and I feel the need to mention this as a possible issue to other future readers.
If you are an avid Sherlock Holmes fan, READ IT! If you like period mysteries, Read it. If you are a somewhat Holmes fan...yeah, read it. It is one of the best pastiches to come out in a while...but in the end it seems more like a pastiche and less than a continuation of the original canon as it was meant to be.