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Night Watch: A Long-Lost Adventure in Which Sherlock Holmes Meets Father…

af Stephen Kendrick

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1446148,069 (3.2)3
It's Christmas Day, 1902. A priest has been murdered in a London church during a secret meeting--to discuss the possibility of a Parliament of World Religions. Now Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson--with some assistance from Father Brown--must discern if the killer is indeed one of the leaders of the world's greatest faiths...… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 6 (næste | vis alle)
This book is almost worth reading just for the premise. But I did not find it to be a particularly good mystery--e.g., it violates some of the canons of mystery literature, like concealing key clues from the reader until the end. It also is mostly missing the interesting philosophical or theological reflections that Father Brown's stories are known for. And, in the end, it just was not as absorbing a mystery as the usual Holmes stories, or the better pastiches. On the whole, not bad, but did not live up to my (high) expectations. Hence, an "ok" rating. ( )
  garyrholt | Nov 5, 2020 |
Six-word review: Unimpressive, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Extended review:

Night Watch wasn't an especially good book. And yet, despite my recent impatience with disappointing books, I didn't ditch it. I read it to the end, considered it an adequately entertaining read, and gave it a decent, if undistinguished, rating of three stars.

So what, I am now asking myself, is the difference between a low-medium read that I finished and gave a relatively respectable rating to and one that I quit in disgust (or indifference) even though the writing was somewhere in the good-to-superior range? What made this worth completing, and not Life After Life or Labyrinth or My Real Children?

I don't have a ready answer to that question, and I'd rather not just dismiss it as a quirk. I'm going to have to ponder it for a little while. But I think there may be something in the theme I keep coming back to, namely, what a book promises versus what it delivers.

The three novels named above, all of which I've recently abandoned, made big promises. And in my opinion all three fell short. I've detailed the reasons in my comments on those works (reviews: Life, Labyrinth, Children). In contrast, despite its ambitious subtitle, Night Watch strikes me as a fairly modest homage, its focal character a Sherlock Holmes manque, not even an impostor but rather a theatrical impersonation, meant to evoke the great detective but never seriously expecting to be mistaken for him. In that respect, it's more like fanfic, in which we find that Snape has a gay romance with Harry or Sir Lancelot is really a woman: no one thinks this idiosyncratic reinterpretation supplants the real thing.

Taking it in that freewheeling spirit, I can enjoy the pastiche for its own sake, and in particular for the charming notion of bringing Holmes together with the estimable Father Brown. I wish we'd seen more of Chesterton's crime-solving priest, but his presence was a treat in itself.

So I wasn't really bothered by the fact that the character play-acting the Homes role committed errors of grammar and idiom that Holmes would never have made, exhibited emotionality that Holmes would never have yielded to, and behaved with a lot of adverbs (for example, desperately, delightedly) that Doyle would never have applied. No Englishman of his time would have confused "run them aground" (a ship metaphor, page 145) with "run them to ground" (a hunting metaphor, which is what he ought to have said). A character whose "voice could not disguise his disappointment" (page 163), and who "burst out in a torrent of fierce entreaty" (page 202), might be an entirely credible character (or not), but we can plainly see that he isn't Sherlock Holmes.

I regard this pseudo-Holmes as a manifestation of author Kendrick's wishful thinking--as if Holmes were someone he could know, someone approachable enough to befriend: a little warmer, a little more expressive, a little more inclined toward humor; as if Kendrick didn't understand, as every lover of Holmes must, that his love will go unrequited. Not guilty of overconfidence, the author persists appealingly in the sincerest form of flattery, secure in the knowledge that the character of the original cannot be compromised.

And the story has its points. It's an interesting, if overcomplicated, puzzle, and the author sets himself an intriguing challenge in narrowing the suspects to a group of highly placed representatives of the world's major religions: how will he handle the political incorrectness of naming a villain among them? The solution is quite well managed, despite a rather clumsy red herring or two. And Father Brown's contribution, together with his eagerness for Holmes's mentorship, adds a pleasing footnote to both canons.

One things that is never adequately explained is why the chapters are structured on an outline labeled with the canonical hours: none, compline, vespers, etc. This isn't a Cadfael mystery. The setting is not medieval, and the church environment does not entail much active observance. It seems a meaningless contrivance, used only because the author thought of it and not because it had any bearing on the story.

In fact, the title itself seems to strike a false note, as do so many of the other story elements. Most seem to have a point or purpose, but this one doesn't.

Nonetheless, the prevailing effect of the author's earnest striving is to honor the memory of his hero, if not to restore him to life. ( )
1 stem Meredy | Nov 16, 2014 |
I have this book because friends recommended it to me several years ago; it was written by the minister of their church. I read it because I was perusing my shelves for something... short, and this is a bit over 250 pages.

It is 1902, and representatives of the world's religions are gathered for a secret conference in London, hosted by the priest of an Anglican church with guest rooms. On Christmas afternoon, the priest is murdered, his body is mutilated, and the church is surrounded by pristine snow, indicating that the murderer remains within, and must be one of the representatives or one of the servants. This is an internationally sensitive matter. Mycroft Holmes summons Sherlock Holmes, who is under pressure to solve the case immediately, while the suspects are confined to the building. Dr Watson documents the events. And it happens that Father Brown is a young man accompanying the Catholic priest as translator.

There is a bit of precedent: the World's Parliament of Religions, convened for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Which, in contrast, was public.

The entire investigation takes place overnight, as each suspect is interviewed, and a web of past connections is gradually revealed. And rather an excess of other deaths occur.

Well, my fault for choosing a short book: the story is... sparse. The author says several times almost directly "I won't bore you with the details". I was maybe expecting more interplay of religions. Characters are sketched: tall/short, fat/thin, smiling/frowning, a smattering of symbolic artifacts. Midway through my strongest emotion was mild curiosity about whodunnit. Meh.

(read 6 Nov 2011)
1 stem qebo | Nov 7, 2011 |
Stephen Kendrick's writing and general approach are much closer to G. K. Chesterton than to Conan Doyle (I've read both), so it's not surprising that Father Brown feels the most "real" here. The treatment of Holmes is good, and Watson is treated with due respect, but it's clear, especially at the end, that this is a Father Brown story with appearances by Sherlock Holmes, and not a Holmes piece per se. The atmosphere is good and the story interesting if somewhat doom-laden. ( )
1 stem hedera | Jun 14, 2009 |
I continue to be bemused by the Holmesian conceit that all pastiches must be based on Mysterious Manuscripts delivered to the author by peculiar methods or unlikely people. The first few times one runs across this, it's clever and amusing; beyond that, it becomes silly and pretentious. That said, this is a well-written and interesting book concerning a murder at a top-secret convocation of the leaders of the world's great religions. Its main flaw, from my POV, is that it's written for the Holmesian audience and therefore features less of Father Brown than I'd hoped to see. In particular, Kendrick handles Watson very well, making him a real person rather than just a foil upon whom Holmes sharpens the rapier of his own wit. (Watson is no Hastings, and some authors' efforts to write him that way are Very Annoying.) Overall, I'd say that if you like Holmes pastiches, this is one worth acquiring.
  stardreamer | Sep 28, 2008 |
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It's Christmas Day, 1902. A priest has been murdered in a London church during a secret meeting--to discuss the possibility of a Parliament of World Religions. Now Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson--with some assistance from Father Brown--must discern if the killer is indeed one of the leaders of the world's greatest faiths...

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