Sherlock Book Review - Rendezvous at the Populaire

Posted by Steve Emecz on

The Bookbag

"After chasing his arch-enemy Moriarty without success on a cold night in November 1882, Sherlock Holmes is left maimed and unable to walk without the use of a cane. Despondent, he decides to give up his career as a detective – but is talked into taking an extra special case, as a Madame Giry comes across the Channel to beg his help with the mysterious 'ghost' which is terrorising the Opera Populaire…

Yes, this is pretty much a rewrite of the Phantom of the Opera (heavily biased towards the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical rather than the Gaston Leroux novel) with Holmes interjected. It's hardly original – a quick search of the internet reveals three previously published tales of various types involving the pairing – but is an enjoyable and quick read which will entertain fans of either of the two central characters. Most notable is the portrayal of Holmes, plagued by doubt as to whether he can still work at the top of his ability after being left disabled by the injury. It's a huge shift for the well-loved detective but Workman's characterisation of him works surprisingly well. There's also an interesting comparison between the disfigured Phantom and the maimed Sherlock as the detective grows rather more sympathetic towards the ghost than he does towards the people hiring him. The flipping of sections back and forth between Watson and Holmes is an interesting narrative choice which also works pretty well.

That said, there are a few things which stop this from taking its place as one of my favourite Holmes novels. The actual mystery part is rather too slim to prove particularly satisfying, as we're given a lot of information about the Phantom by heroine Christine Daae, while the characterization of everyone beyond the central trio of Holmes, Watson, and the Phantom was approaching caricature level at times. (This actually worked well for the comic relief of the two managers, but was rather less successful with Raoul, the Phantom's rival for Christine's affections.)

All in all, though, this is an interesting take on this pair of iconic characters which will appeal to the vast majority of fans of either of them."


Rendezvous at The Populaire is available from:

Amazon USA     The Strand Magazine (special offer)

Amazon UK      Book Depository


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