Another book in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series crossed my reading list in the last week and it was, well, average at best. Sam Siciliano follows his Angel of the Opera effort with this one, The Web Weaver.
Like its predecessor, this book is told not by Watson but by Holmes’s cousin Dr. Henry Vernier. In the previous book Vernier’s disdain for Watson was rather overt from the off and it spills over to Holmes in this book. In many ways Siciliano’s shambling attempt to bring a fresh perspective to the Holmes pastiche genre is hamstrung from the off by its need to have such a clear distinction, and one which is so poorly executed.
The plot for the story revolves around Violet Wheelwright and her seemingly torturous existence. A series of mishaps, attacks and mysterious goings on happen to Mrs. Wheelwright and Holmes is brought in to help unravel the mystery. The catalyst for Holmes’s involvement is the wife of Henry Vernier, Michelle.
And it is here I have my second biggest problem with The Web Weaver – it ends up part narrated by Michelle Vernier and reads more as if she is the detective than Holmes. It is as though Siciliano has used the presence and legend of Holmes to try and create his own detective double act in the Verniers.
The story is clunky and the character Violet, with whom Holmes shares many interests including a love of opera and the violin, is without a single endearing trait. However, the shambolic love interest shared by the pair is where I have my biggest problem with this book.
Vernier is at pains to show us that Holmes in The Web Weaver is not the Holmes from the Watson novels. But the character is so far removed from the original that he may as well not even be called Holmes. You could call him Rod, Jane or Freddy for all it matters. Authors have taken liberties with Holmes’s character in the past, and that is fine, however, to completely strip away all that is Holmes is a bridge too far.
This is a book which treats Holmes poorly, has a drawn-out story and whose other characters are without much in the way of endearing traits. If Siciliano wants to write mystery novels he may be better served keeping Holmes out of them in future.