Review - Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Timbuktu:

This book purports to be the true account of what Sherlock Holmes did after Reichenbach and makes plain that Watson did not tell us the truth about what happened to the Great Detective.

The main plank of the plot concerns an ancient manuscript that, hundreds of years previously, was deemed too dangerous to mankind and was split into two parts. One half comes into the possession of an Italian academic who brings it and its story to Holmes. From Baker Street we head to the Vatican and from there to other exotic locations. Along the way we encounter opponents all of whom seek the manuscript.

The readability of the book suffers at the hands of frequent tangents. We go from the action to chapters consisting almost entirely of background information. This could take the form of a historical letter or some other manifestation. The result is to lift you out of the main story which is not a good move. The author always seems to do it at the wrong time and for too long a period.

While the background information is often necessary to understanding what’s going on, I cannot but feel that the important information could have been weaved into the main narrative so as to avoid dragging the reader away from the action. A great deal of the tangential information provided is, to my mind, almost totally irrelevant and could be omitted without damaging the plot at all.

The characters of Holmes and Watson start out well but slowly seem to drift from their canon standards. Watson begins to show a disdain for his readers and praise for himself that is distinctly out of character. This praise often finds expression in footnotes which I feel have no business in a work of fiction.

Similarly Holmes also comes across, at times, as equally intolerant of both Watson and his readers. The latter is, to a degree, in character but some of the former really is out of place.

All the above said, the plot moves at a reasonable pace (tangents aside) and I was carried along until the last thirty or so pages when the plot drifted into territory more worthy of Indiana Jones. The result was that I came away disappointed and with the feeling that the author was unsure of what type of tale he wished to tell.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here


  1. Great review, thanks a lot! Knowing the above I can make an informed decision whether I want to read that book or not. If so, I'll be a bit more lenient, because I'm forewarned, when otherwise I'd probably start foaming at the mouth coming across the mentioned flaws unprepared or expecting too much because of the unequivocal praise Sherlockian pastiches often get however bad the work.