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Aoife

Witty Little Knitter

I read fantasy, crime, true crime, lgbt-romance and books written by my favourite comedians. List not necessarily complete.
Sometimes I write for Bibliodaze

Currently reading

Stephen and Matilda
Jim Bradbury
Progress: 52/262 pages
Krieg und Frieden
Michael Grusemann, Leo Tolstoy
Progress: 579/1024 pages
The Whitechapel Horrors - Edward B. Hanna I really really wanted to like this book but unfortunately it failed in every possible way a Holmes-pastiche can fail, in every way a fictional re-telling of Jack the Ripper's crimes can fail and in most ways a (historical) crime novel can fail.First of all: The story is not told by Watson but by a third person-narrator with insight in the minds of Holmes and Watson. So the we don't only read about Watson being amazed by Holmes deductions, we also see Holmes being desperate, having no idea what to do next and so on. Holmes being human in that way doesn't work for me. I need the mystery. Besides we are still kept in the dark about many of his deductions. Holmes finds a vital clue quite early on in the book but refuses to tell Watson about it and even when we're accompanying Holmes we don't learn anything about it until Holmes tells Watson over 100 pages later (that happens a couple of times though later with less pages in between). Why bother with that that kind of narration when you still won't let your readers know everything?As an added mystery the author still went for the “We found this old manuscript in a safe”-introduction. I hate them because by now it is quite widely known that Holmes was not real so there is absolutely no need to pretend he was. And if you do it at least keep it short. Hannah goes on for pages about one person getting it from another and about orders not to open it before a certain date. Yawn.Then there are the footnotes. On 430 pages of story and another 10 postscript by the author there are 120 footnotes. Let me say that again: 120 footnotes. I really only accept Terry Pratchett's excessive use of footnotes in fiction but even if he had that amount in a novel I'd complain (also: this edition, at least, doesn't have the footnotes at the bottom of the page but at the end of the book, so you'll have to leaf to the back of the book 120 times). And the footnotes aren't even interesting (but I'm that kind of person that just has to check them anyway) and could mostly be summed up with 'Oh look how clever I am! Look how much research I did!!!'. Some footnotes just refer to the Holmes-canon, e.g. if he used a quote from one of the stories or a person that also appeared in another story appears, the footnote tells which story that was. You can argue about how necessary those are. Personally I think that the Holmes-nerd will know that anyway and the other won't care that much (in fact I think that not even Holmes-nerds will care that much about how many dressing-gowns he had, which colours they were and which he wore most but Hanna still explains it in a footnote). The same goes for the footnotes explaining more about Victorian society or giving more information about the real people that appear in this story. Then there are the second-worst kind of footnotes which explain in-jokes. e.g. at one point Holmes meets George Bernhard Shaw and talks to him about the Cockney accent and London flower-girls. The footnote then informs us about Pygmalion. See above: Nerds will know it and others won't care. However, the absolutely worst are those in which the author points out his own mistakes. Honestly. People refer to places or quotes from books/plays etc. and then we are informed in the footnote that they didn't exist/weren't yet written at that time. I am not making this up. It's always accompanied by phrases like “For some inexplicable reason” or some babbling about how Watson often had issues with the exact chronology in his writings etc. Sorry but on what level of insanity is this author operating? Does he actually believe that this was an old manuscript? I do not understand.Besides all this I didn't think that Hannah managed to capture Holmes terribly well. Partly that's certainly because of the unusual narration-perspective but he also fell in the trap that lots of Holmes-pastiche writers fall into: Holmes is too much of a jerk and Watson too much of an idiot. This is of course a very fine line and others might see it differently but Watson seems barely able to string coherent thoughts together and Holmes insults him constantly so I really began wondering why those two still stuck together at all. I never felt the genuine friendship from the original stories. Holmes mostly mocks Watson and keeps much more from him than usually.Lastly there is the small issue of Jack the Ripper who seems to be missing from large parts of this book. Sometimes he's barely mentioned at all in the chapters and instead we learn all kinds of things about the Victorian age and its famous people. That's another fine line. On the one hand I do want information on the time a historic novel is set in, on the other if I am terribly interested I can read non-fiction. However, here the author wasn't a bit over the line, he was miles away. I ended up skipping whole paragraphs because I simply did not care enough. (Often I also skipped whole paragraphs because the author loved introducing new characters or places with half a page of adjectives...honestly you'd think he got paid per adjective).I'd really love to say anything positive about this book but I simply can't. In fact I have already focused on all the major annoyances and left out the minor things because this review is already long enough.My quest for a good Holmes meets the Ripper-story continues.