Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA. Alan Vanneman. Carroll and Graf; 2002.

The untold case of the giant rat of Sumatra was referred to in Doyle's stories and in at least one Holmes movie, but this is the first time the entire story has been revealed-- sort of. This is an entertaining pulp-type novel, but the Holmes and Watson it presents seem to come from an alternate dimension. For one thing, Holmes accepts supernatural and bizarre occurrences much too quickly and easily, and Watson not only beds a married lady and others, but writes gleefully about it in the narrative -- hardly the actions of a gentleman. [Besides, who cares about Watson's sex life?] These are ill-advised attempts to "modernize" or jazz up these famous characters, and they don't work. However, the story itself -- in which Holmes and Watson investigate when a widowed client is murdered, and find themselves embroiled in a far-flung conspiracy as well as with an unknown race and its grotesque leader -- is generally well-written and quite entertaining. The ending is a bit abrupt but for the most part this is fun and rather suspenseful.

Verdict: Certainly imperfect but not a bad read -- but not for Holmes purists. ***.

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