Saturday, 14 October 2017

The Valley of Fear Review (Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton)


A wealthy American businessman is murdered in his English manor house, his head blown off by a double-barrelled shotgun - whodunit and why? 

The Valley of Fear is one of the better Sherlock Holmes stories but it’s still a fairly mediocre read. It’s a fine story of revenge and intrigue full of American gangsters and Freemasons (like A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle clearly viewed the United States as a romantically dangerous country full of rogues!), and the mystery is well put-together. 

The Holmes stories always lose me in their weak execution though. It’s always characters sat in rooms monologuing at length, page after page, while the action is almost always in the past tense; the frequently static narrative never makes for an exciting read as a result. The ending to this book is also a bit unsatisfying in that, with the first mentions of Professor Moriarty, Holmes’ shadowy nemesis, it feels like you’re reading the first act to a story that doesn’t have a second. And, like in all of these comics adaptations, INJ Culbard’s overly cartoony art style is a terrible pairing for the dramatic material. 

The Valley of Fear is a decent mystery but I found the old-fashioned pacing made for a less than thrilling reading experience - I couldn’t takes it, I tells ya! The original Sherlock Holmes stories are definitely outdated and are more quaint curiosities than anything else.

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