Watson's Afghan Adventure by Kieran McMullen

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Watson's Afghan Adventure by Kieran McMullen

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Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: This books tells' Dr Watson's story before he teamed up with the famous Sherlock Holmes. We go deep into war-torn Afghanistan which also involves looking for hidden treasure.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 218 Date: January 2011
Publisher: MX Publishing
ISBN: 978-1907685934

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In truth, I could write this review in two words = (oh dear) and be done with it. But I'd better be fair and put some meat on those bones. Where to start... With its dark, almost apocalyptic front cover this book looks very much like a 'man's' book. That's fine but is this what McMullen wants? Is he happy to discard some or even perhaps most of the female reading population in one fell swoop? It appears so. Now I know that this is a historical yarn but even so, given the current situation in Afghanistan with British and American Troops, the word 'adventure' in the title doesn't sit easily with me. If I saw this book on a bookstore shelf, I would feel a little uncomfortable. Not a good start ... and it's generally downhill from here, I'm afraid.

It's a well-known statement for would-be writers (particularly of fiction) to write about what you know, what you're passionate about. Well, McMullen has certainly paid heed. His blurb on the back cover has both my acknowledgement and respect. That said, this book does not translate into a smooth work of fiction, in my opinion. Far from it. The book could just as easily be called 'Battle Re-enactment Manual' and yes, I've used the word 'manual' on purpose. This book, after I'd read it, is simply a series of detailed (and McMullen cherry picks the parts he wishes to detail) war situations strung together by a very loose plot.

And McMullen is lucky. He has a head start with his main character as most of us will be familiar with Dr Watson from books, television etc. We can picture him clearly in our minds' eye. But even with this golden nugget, so to speak, McMullen's tale slides steadily southwards. The book starts at the end (if you see what I mean) as Holmes and Watson sit in 221b Baker Street and chat about old times. This is when the rather reticent, up till now, Watson decides to open up (with the help of a brandy or two) and tell his good friend Holmes a lot, yes, a heck of a lot, about his background. So we get to hear about his childhood, his parents, his schooling - but they are all simply the lead-up to the main event: his working as a doctor in war-ravaged Afghanistan. And, to be fair, the story does have a promising - ish start. Little pieces of information to tempt the reader. Pieces like, for example, when Holmes is asking Watson for the explanation of the contents of a small box and says ... ... assume they have something to do with this ruby and an award to John H Watson from the Roman Pope.

All of this background information does, however, lead the reader to understand why Watson chose medicine as a career and also his entry into the Armed Forces. But McMullen's style I found to be dull and plodding; it's not an engaging read. I'd reached my tolerance level by page 70 so I read the rest of the book in three short bursts so that it was done and dusted. I couldn't bear to look at the front cover any longer, for one thing.

And when there is a spark of interest in the book, for example, when elephants are used to carry war supplies, McMullen simply glosses over it and decides to give us the low-down on a make of rifle, for instance. What a wasted opportunity I thought. And finally, the book is littered with spelling and punctuation mistakes and also words will suddenly appear in capital letters for no reason. Another example of this book's sloppy writing/editing is when a P & O liner is described as a boat. I winced. She's called a ship, I heard myself shouting at the computer. I could go on, but I won't. Simply, one of the worst books I've read recently.

If this period appeals then why not try The Complete Brigadier Gerard Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Buy Watson's Afghan Adventure by Kieran McMullen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Watson's Afghan Adventure by Kieran McMullen at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Watson's Afghan Adventure by Kieran McMullen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Watson's Afghan Adventure by Kieran McMullen at Amazon.com.


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