Couple of very recent (as in--today!) and very brief reads.
SPOTLIGHT ON A SIMPLE CASE by Robert S. Morgan is a book. Of sorts. It's one essay, less than forty pages, but there it is between two solid hardback covers, all by its lonesome. Among the shorter "books" I've ever read.
I bought this because one of the previous books I'd read just raved about it. I can kind of understand why...and can kind of not. The thing is, basically, a deconstruction of A STUDY IN SCARLET, purporting to show what really happened and how Holmes sort of, errr, lied.
There is an odd and unexpected diversion of several pages into the depths of 19th Century American Presidential politics. Interesting stuff and it -- sort of -- has a point in its inclusion. Sort of.
I will say that there is one notion -- almost certainly the source of all the praise I'd read -- which sort of makes the whole thing worthwhile. It's a bizarre, out-of-the-blue thing which caused me to unexpectedly laugh out loud. Actually I laughed a couple of times, but both were due to this one bizarre, silly, hilarious idea. I'll say no more.
The other thing I read is a short story titled "The Darkwater Hall Mystery" by Kingsley Amis. I found this story on my shelf when I removed some of the Holmes books from their ancient hiding place there a while back. I had cut the story --very very precisely trimmed -- from an issue of Playboy decades back. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, figuring I'd save a story or article for the future. Well, the future is now, I guess.
I have numerous stories by Bradbury, Clarke, Asimov and some others which are still around here somewhere, still neatly trimmed from Playboy or Readers Digest or one of the s-f mags, still waiting for me to finally get to them.
Amis has given us here not really a Holmes story at all, but very much a Watson story. Sherlock is shipped off for some r&r right off and the case falls into the lap of the Good Doctor.
Amis gets the style, the language, and the feel of Doyle quite well. But the story itself is bland and the mystery is nonexistent. It's all so incredibly straightforward and obvious that I was sure, right up to the last sentence that the author would spin some bizarre twist to make it all worthwhile, but...no. The mystery is not at all, and the villain is just as supposed from the get-go and there is nary a surprise to be seen. Very strange. Extremely so.
Amis was a noted writer and clearly he knows his Doyle, but there is just simply nothing here beyond a pleasant recreation of appropriate style. Very strange. Disconcertingly so.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
~ Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul