First novels are notoriously difficult to write, despite the old adage that everyone has a novel inside them. Kieran Lyne, a Suffolk born first time writer has tapped in to the soaring market that is Sherlock Holmes with his book, The Last Confession of Sherlock Holmes. He is the youngest writer ever to be endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate, so if they think he’s done a good job with Holmes, Watson and Moriarty then that’s a very good start!
— Sharon Emecz (@mxpublishing) September 4, 2014
It’s well written, avoiding the clumsy over-wording that so many Victorian pastiches fall into, but still keeps to Conan Doyle’s tone – allowing the reader to slip into the Gaslamp world of Sherlock.
There’s been a murder
An interesting and unique series of murders open the novel which is set against the gorgeous backdrop of Victorian London and Lyne paints the story with clear, detailed strokes bringing it to life; building up a delightfully detailed image of the intricacies of Whitechapel. Baker Street and all the locations we’ve come to love through the maverick detective’s world.
We expect Holmes to be suave, witty and sharp and yet we are introduced to a haggard wretch chained in paranoia. I find this interesting – an anti-hero Sherlock Holmes who believes himself to be at the centre of the murders.
The story moves smoothly from mystery to dramatic chase, cleverly paced to keep the reader involved in the game that is unwinding around Holmes and Watson. The novel switches narrators, moving from Watson to a mysterious woman who, it seems, has been attempting to start her own criminal empire throughout Europe, in a twisted homage to both Moriarty and Holmes. We then progress through the eyes of the great man himself before moving back to Watson – a more interesting narrator who knows a lot more than it appears at first.
It’s a good technique, allowing us to see the story from the outside, building up a clearer picture of what’s happening – vital with a plot that would otherwise be in danger of swallowing up the reader in a mess of confusion. It’s well executed and keeps the novel from petering out early on, instead slowly adding new ideas and opinions to keep us intrigued.
Historical fiction with a ‘who-dunnit’ twist
The narrative picks up pace in the second half of the book, I loved the Jack the Ripper twist on the story – mixing history with fiction; particularly the clever way Lyne keeps us guessing at all the pieces of the puzzle – we are as in the dark as Watson (or so it seems). It’s only after the surprising reveal that we remember the clues he has been scattering through story and it seems so simple.
The ending is both unpredictable and satisfying – it’s exactly how you wanted it to end, without even realising you did. Lyne closes the book with a knowing wink to the audience on police surveillance and blackmail – apt in the light of the increasingly more controversial techniques of police discovery, don’t we all occasionally wish todays’ crimes could be so open and shut?
You don’t have to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes to enjoy this book, but if you are it’s even better. It’s a clever look at a classic and an engaging, fun read.
More information on The Last Confessions of Sherlock Holmes is available at http://kieranlyne.com/ and on Twitter @KieranLyne