If you’re a first time reader here you might not know that I’ve been plodding my way through the Sherlock Holmes books, including Hound of the Baskervilles, and love a bit of crime/mystery fiction in my reading stack. If you’ve visited in the past you might know that I’m not that keen on characters that are exploited by other authors once the original author ceases to breath on this earth.
And yet here I am about to discuss a book that not only includes Conan Doyle but tries to hash together an encounter between Conan Doyle and another man, without there being much evidence to back up the story or really flesh it out, with a claim of deception and harshness. If John O’Connell attempts to use The Baskerville Legacy to make the famous writer look like a villain then the lack of background, in-depth proof to back it up and the relatively short retelling of the story has failed him here.
Somehow my low expectations for this book still proved to be rather too high. It felt somewhat like setting up a limbo pole that only goes down to two foot high and giving a newly crawling child the challenge of getting underneath it. Only the brevity of the book, less than 200 pages, kept me going after the first chunk of the book. I can see how there was great potential for the story to unfold into a captivating, shocking and outrageous story but it fell short of the mark on several levels; was it the author’s desire to only use things based on his research or was it just a style of story that would have matched a better story teller’s pen?
You would be wrong in thinking it could possibly be the former of these two possibilities. Despite O’Connell’s statement that of course he has had to flesh the story out a little, as not all information about the main character or his encounter with Conan Doyle could be accounted for, he then makes a begrudged apology about making the journalist into a drug taking, prostitute seeking rather cynical lousy chap. Think how dull the book would have been if he kept this novella even remotely fair on the main character! There is a different between enhancing the truth and simply taking it apart and making an entirely different garment from it and for that I cannot forgive O’Connell.
Even if you want to have an additional book sitting alongside your Holmes collection or it is on offer to you for next to nothing on a book stall or in a charity should I would strongly recommend yourself yourself the money and the time that it would involve. It is disappointing and frustrating from start to end when it simply needn’t be so at all.