Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher

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Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher

Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Who do you call if you find a man shot to death in a seemingly locked room? Sherlock Holmes, of course! But, this is New York in 2015. Thankfully, in the world of Elementary, a more modern Holmes is on the case. This tie-in novel from the popular US series is surprisingly well written and may surprise a few fans of the classic adventures.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 320 Date: February 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781781169841

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Once an author dies, the characters they created are often left alone to live off this initial legacy, but it is increasingly normal to see past heroes rise again – quite literally in the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Once out of copyright you can do what you like to a character; a character just like Sherlock Holmes. Not only do we get numerous new books starring Holmes set in the Victorian era, but there are currently two separate TV shows about modern Sherlockian adventures. Elementary is set in America and is more liberal than most adaptations with the lore, but can the tie in novel evoke any memories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Modern New York is rife with crime and the likes of Sherlock Holmes are sorely needed. Thankfully, in some bizarre twist this version of Holmes resides just here, flat sharing with Dr Joan Watson. Together they help the police out on the more tricky cases, such as a man who has been shot to death within a locked room. Elementary: The Ghost Line will see Holmes and Watson delve into the bowels of the city in search of a murderer and a mysterious cult-like group.

Although Ghost Line can never be considered a classic piece of literature, Adam Christopher has to be commended for producing something that evokes both the TV show and also the original essence of Holmes. Christopher is no slouch when it comes to writing; his own books are of a very high standard and he bring this quality to this tie-in. The adventure itself has a timeless Sherlock feel to it; mysterious groups, murder and expensive jewellery. Like with the BBC’s modern adaptations of Doyle’s stories, Christopher has taken a classic-feeling story and set it in the present. For this reason, fans of the original great detective’s actions will be willing to give this story a little more leeway than if it had abandoned the entire ethos of the character.

With an intriguing murder mystery at its centre Ghost Line is able to hold up in its own right, but there is also something to be said of the characters. I have yet to see the TV show on which the book is based, but the relationship between Sherlock and Watson is interesting. Pairing a man and a woman would suggest a romantic undertone, thankfully this is downplayed in favour of the more traditional relationship of Sherlock trying Watson’s patience (although that sounds like a typical romantic relationship to me). The book works best when it is told from the point of view of Watson, like in the original stories. She is the every person that we can recognise ourselves in and she describes Holmes actions well.

The two main characters are not always together in the book, going their separate ways to investigate different leads. When the two character’s storylines intersect, the book becomes quite thrilling as you see one in jeopardy, only for the other to save the day. This happened throughout the book and also most gives it a lapsed time feel as you jump back in time to see what the other character has been up to. The problems are not in the interaction between the characters, but when Holmes is left to his own devices. Christopher welcomes us a little too readily into the mind of Sherlock and for me it took a lot of the polish off his mystique.

There are also quite major issues with the narrative towards the end of the book. What is a rather intelligent and slow burning mystery dissolves into something far more crass and Hollywood towards the end. This feels like the influence of the show as the book ends like a 45 minute episode would. This rather overblown conclusion is not enough to completely undermine the first two thirds of the book, but does remind you quite bluntly that this is a tie-in novel first and foremost that caters for fans of the show. I think these fans will be very pleasantly surprised by a tie-in novel that is respectably written and more intelligent than they may have suspected. Fans of Holmes can also glean entertainment from the book, but may feel a little peeved by the conclusion.

If you are impressed with how Adam Christopher handled this tie in novel, why not try one of his own IPs; The Burning Dark. If you want to try out some of the newly written Holmes stories set in the classic period, Sherlock Holmes: Gods of War by James Lovegrove is a good choice.

Buy Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher at Amazon.com.


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