I’m a sucker for Sherlock Holmes and anything related to its original premise. From Sir Arthur’s stories, to TV shows like House, to mini-series like the BBC’s Sherlock, to the traditional Sherlock Holmes movies, as long as the synopsis mentions Holmes, I’ll at least try it.
That’s why I decided to read The Devil and the Dark Water. Described by Amazon as: For fans of Steven King, The Devil and the Dark Water brings a chilling new spin to the Sherlock Holmes detective duo in a thriller of supernatural horror, occult suspicion, and paranormal mystery on the high seas. You mention Stephen King and Sherlock Holmes? I’m definitely in!
But if you mention Stephen King and Sherlock Holmes, you better deliver. And sadly, The Devil and the Dark Water did not. I personally think they didn’t do themselves any favors with that description. What an impossibly high standard to set!
To begin, the author did not try to hide the comparison between his book and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Holmes stories. Sherlock/Sammy is the smartest detective of his day, but somehow is mysteriously locked in chains and being transported as a prisoner back to London aboard a ship. His accomplice, Watson/Arndt, spends the book trying to free Sammy while simultaneously trying to solve the mystery on who is terrorizing the ship as Sammy gives directions from his cell. Oh, and just in case the reader missed the connection, Turton is sure to mention how Watson/Ardnt is the famous chronicler of Sherlock/Sammy’s detecting adventures, which are well-known and read far and wide.
Still, the story isn’t bad, and it’s a fast, easy read. But there are a lot of characters, and as I read more and more of the book, it got harder and harder to keep everyone straight. Who was in charge again? The captain of the boat or the Governor of the colony? Which character is the captain of the soldiers? Which one is in charge of the crew? So many leaders, so many names. Still, I stuck with it….and then the ending came. And I’ve decided not to read any more of Turton’s books. I’m still trying to work out exactly what happened because I’m still not really sure. However, one thing I do know is that in the end, Sammy and Arndt were barely friends anymore, and for a book that is so obviously based on Sherlock and Watson, that is unacceptable to me! You don’t mess with the Sherlock-Watson bromance!
Anyway, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book. Not just because he screwed up Sherlock and Watson, but because in the end, I just didn’t care who did it. There were so many characters to keep straight, so many twists that I didn’t think made sense, so many unneeded details. It just didn’t work for me.
But then again, like I said at the beginning, I’m a Sherlock fanatic so my opinion is unabashedly biased.