Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove

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Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: Man vs Machine in the ultimate battle of wits and deduction as Homes faces the incredible Thinking Engine and its enigmatic creator.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 304 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: [www.jameslovegrove.com Author's website]
ISBN: 9781783295036

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In this hyper-connected world, it is not difficult to conceive of machines that can answer perplexing questions in the blink of an eye, communicate over a vast network or even seemingly outsmart humans. Of course, in the year 1895, such a machine would be viewed with deep suspicion and curiosity; hailed as a miracle, or condemned as the work of dark supernatural forces. James Lovegrove put this idea to the test in his latest Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Thinking Engine, which pits man against machine in the ultimate battle of wits.

The titular machine is a steampunk masterpiece; a monument built of shiny brass cogs and levers, whirring away as it performs its calculations, like a huge mechanical brain. Its inventor proclaims it a marvel, able to outdo the greatest human minds, even the deductive powerhouse that is Mr Sherlock Holmes himself. Unable to resist a challenge, Holmes and Watson travel to Oxford to examine this wonder for themselves and to discover whether these outlandish claims are true.

As the story progresses, Holmes seeks to solve several seemingly-unrelated mysteries and beat the machine in a battle of deduction. Holmes would appear to be the clear favourite, but frustratingly for him, the machine seems to match his every move, predicting the outcome of events with astonishing accuracy. Holmes becomes increasingly despondent as he is beaten time and time again by the incredible Thinking Engine.

The book is essentially several short stories, woven together to make a novel. Each standalone mystery is a complete tale in its own right, but Lovegrove links them to create a single, central theme. I didn't feel that this approach was necessarily the right one to take, as it felt like each new mystery served to pull away from the main story and this was frustrating when I was keen to read more about the thinking machine itself. By the end of the book, however, all of the loose ends are neatly tied up and the final denouement and subsequent revelations had me completely hooked.

Lovegrove has an engaging style of writing which stays true to the theme of the original books. I think Conan Doyle would have enjoyed reading this story: the concept of an intelligent, self-aware Thinking Engine is brilliance itself. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.

Lovegrove has written several Holmes adventures. Bookbag particularly enjoyed Sherlock Homes: Gods of War which sees an older Holmes coming out of retirement to solve a perplexing mystery.

Buy Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sherlock Holmes - The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove at Amazon.com.


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