Sunday, 23 April 2017

Lot No. 249 by Arthur Conan Doyle Review


1884 Oxford and a medical student buys up a bunch of Egyptian stuff at an auction – including lot no. 249: a mummy! Shortly after, the medical student’s (laughable) “enemies” start getting attacked by a mysterious assailant. Surely it’s not the mummy, what??

Arthur Conan Doyle may have written some stonking good detective yarns with Sherlock Holmes but his attempt at horror in Lot No. 249 is pretty crap.

I’ve never found Conan Doyle’s writing to be especially standout and it’s very plodding and unexciting here. The drawn-out and unimpressive story is largely dull with little happening and populated with stereotypical English toffs speaking very plummy dialogue, what? And the ending is beyond weak – there are zero obstacles in the way, no tension; I say, it’s the literary equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, what! 

I suppose Conan Doyle should get points for being the first to use mummies as horror figures and the setting is quite atmospheric: musty old rooms filled with Egyptian antiquities in Victorian England. But I found the writing and storytelling style to be very dated and tedious compared to modern horror stories. Lot No. 249’s definitely not among Sir Arthur’s best work.

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