I’m kicking off my first ever crime week with one of the world’s most well known detectives; the infamous Mr Sherlock Holmes. The pinnacle of deductive reasoning and astounding feats of logic, Holmes has the brain power and knowledge to crack even the most difficult of cases with his trusty sidekick Dr Watson in tow.
In this offering by NYT bestselling author James Lovegrove – who has previously written other Sherlock Holmes novels for Titan books – Holmes may have met his match in the form of a revolutionary computational device.
Challenged to a battle of wits by a pompous Lord and an eccentric Professor, Holmes and Watson travel to Oxford to investigate the brutal slaying of a family where the prime suspect has a strong alibi. Holmes uses his own investigative skills whilst the machine crunches data input to it by its creator, the stuttering Professor Quantock in a bid for intellectual supremacy in the solving of the mystery which has stumped local law enforcement.
However Holmes and Watson’s time in Oxford is far from uneventful, as a further chain of murders turns what started off as sporting competition into a dangerous puzzle that sends even the great Sherlock Holmes over the edge.
The story is told from Watson’s perspective as he makes something of a side career out of fictionalising the cases the pair are thrown in to and relates the tale as he experiences it. Of the two, I prefer Watson as a person and often end up feeling for him as he gets caught up in Sherlock’s risky plans and made to feel inferior in the shadow of Holmes’s brilliance. Yes, Holmes is exceptionally clever but not the nicest of people. I guess nobody is perfect and it is what makes him a unique and memorable literary character.
One thing I really enjoyed about this book and other Holmes stories is the language. There are lots of beautiful long words and clever sounding sentences that convey the elegance of the historical period and the intelligence of the story. The geeky part of me loved the steampunk style computer device that really puts Holmes through his mental paces.
The past comes back to haunt Sherlock in this story and he really has to put his best thinking foot forward in order to defeat more than one enemy he has made on previous escapades. A brilliant mystery and some dastardly foes to go up against, The Thinking Engine is a marvellous addition to Sherlock Holmes literature that will keep you guessing until the very end.