Ever since Sherlock Holmes was born out of the imagination of his creator Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, the brilliant London "consulting detective" has never gone out of style. But Doyle grew sick of his hero, who had become more popular — and to some more real — than the author himself. When Doyle tried to "kill" Holmes by pitching him over Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland in 1893, England went into mourning and Doyle was vilified as if he were Moriarty himself.
The fascination with Holmes today and during the time that Doyle was writing makes for a clever debut for Graham Moore. Switching between two centuries, The Sherlockian works as an insightful look at the rise of celebrities, extreme fans and a character who continues to be bigger than life.
In 1893, Doyle is tired of receiving letters addressed to Holmes, of strangers seeking the great detective's help, of being asked to sign books as Holmes, rather than with his own name. But he's equally unprepared for the outcry when he supposedly kills his character.
In 2010, introverted Harold White has just been admitted into the prestigious Baker Street Irregulars during their annual New York banquet. The highlight of the dinner is to be the unveiling of Doyle's lost diary — until the scholar who supposedly has the book is murdered.
The game's afoot, as the greatest detective would say, and the shadow of what Sherlock Holmes would do hangs heavily over both Doyle and White. To prove that he is the better man, Doyle sets out to solve a series of murders of young women. His Watson is his good friend Bram Stoker, a theater manager who worries that his little novel about Dracula will never catch on. White is hired by Doyle's great-grandson to solve the scholar's murder and retrieve the diary. White's sidekick is more of an Irene Adler — a female journalist with a few secrets.
Moore deftly alternates The Sherlockian between his two heroes, and Doyle would be proud of his ingenious book. So would Holmes.