Monday, July 3, 2017


ELEMENTARY: BLOOD AND INK by Adam Christopher (Titan Books, 2016)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

The Chief Financial Officer of a secretive NYC hedge fund has been found murdered—stabbed through the eye with an expensive fountain pen. When Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson discover a link between the victim and a charismatic management guru with a doubtful past, it seems they may have their man. But is the guru being framed? 

As secrets are revealed and another victim is found murdered in the same grisly fashion, Holmes and Watson begin to uncover a murky world of money and deceit…

I was thrilled I was going to be able to review a Sherlock Holmes novel written by a Kiwi. And Blood and Ink started off well enough – but this Sherlock Holmes is the one from the television series Elementary, and as the story progressed it became obvious he doesn’t have much in common with the classic Holmes.

In fact, the only two examples of Holmesian deduction in the book – where Holmes deduces specific facts about people with seemingly supernatural insight, and then explains his method as a series of fine observations – lacked the latter part of the device, ie we have no idea how he knew what he knew as Watson “having worked with Holmes for so long … simply took his observation, deduction, induction, whatever it was, on face value”.

Holmes isn’t really at the centre of this story of financial espionage at all – he is just part of a team with Joan Watson and NYPD’s Captain Gregson and Detective Bell. The story is almost exclusively told from the point of view of Watson; the main contribution Holmes makes to solving the case comes via a group of dark net hackers whom Holmes pays for information with online Monty Python performances!

The mystery itself is OK – the CFO of a top New York hedge fund is found dead in a seedy hotel with an exceedingly expensive fountain pen stuck through his eye and into his brain. It is soon clear to both the characters and the reader that the ‘obvious’ suspect is being framed – and there are a few twists and turns before a solution is reached – but the end isn’t a surprise and the arc of the storytelling quite flat.

As I don’t watch the television series I can’t say how faithful this book is to its Holmes and Watson – I just know that not only is it set in a different city and a different time from the original Holmes – it is part of a different literary universe.

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving librarian in Nelson. This review first appeared on her blog, which you can check out here

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