“You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.”
~ Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
And unfortunately, in the case of Boneseeker, the trifles added up to the conclusion that though this book has an intriguing premise, it is in desperate need of a few more rewrites and/or editorial passes. Yes, I do understand that I read an advance copy of this book, but it was in extremely rough shape even for a review copy, and not just in regard to grammar. I’m going to try to keep my explanations and reasoning brief, so here’s a quick laundry list of things that just didn’t work for me:
- Arabella. Due to the fact that she was a Holmes AND pursuing a career as a scientist at a time when most women were expected to tend the home and hearth, I expected her to be something more unique, or at least a little more Holmes-esque — independent, detached, rational, pro-active, “a-step-ahead” and self-sufficient — than she ended up being. Instead, she was more focused on her own emotional/romantic turmoil and a little too damsel-in-distress. Not what I imagined at all.
- Henry. His character is distractingly contradictory. For instance, it’s only about half way in to the book that it’s revealed that this guy who seems cute but nerdy was once a bit of a playboy/troublemaker. I could never mesh these two ideas together.
- Plot vs. romance. Having invoked the sacred name of Holmes, I’d hoped that this book would’ve had an interesting, smart, and logical mystery. And therefore that it would’ve been plot-driven while achieving great character development, but no. It was more of a romance than anything, and I found myself disappointed with the B-plot mystery that ultimately felt unimportant, lacked urgency, and cobbled together to serve the romance.
- Romance. Too fast. It was just too fast. Wooing a Holmes should take longer. Romance with a Holmes, if you could even convince them that romance is worth their time, should be a slow-simmering build to the pay-off; a long game. Ermiright? Not to mention that the obstacles opposing Bella & Henry’s romance were very manufactured.
- Villain. I found him to be a bit of the cardboardian, mustache-twirling persuasion. His goals and objectives were a bit vague, and I found myself wondering at the rationale of certain parts of his plan, and what on earth he was waiting for. His schemes just seemed too drawn out with a disappointing lack of character development coupled with a disappointing lack of proactive investigation on the part of the “good guys” that might force his schemes and development along.
- Language. It fluctuated between trying (a little to hard) to sound period and being A. Bit. Too. Modern.
- Pacing & Flow. The stream of the plot was staccato; not an easy to follow flow of events, but it was rather like witnessing it by strobe light — getting the basic gist but never feeling like I had the whole story or sometimes not understanding why things were happening when they happened.
- Dialogue. At times it was difficult to tell who was speaking.
- Continuity. There were issues with the continuity of action and place. Hands holding something in one sentence and then immediately grabbing something else in another. A policeman in upstate New York being expected to know the name of another policeman from Philadelphia… in 1910. An issue with a limp, among others. This will all hopefully be fixed in editing, but it occurred enough throughout the book that it became very distracting and negatively affected the story’s credibility.
Overall. It’s such a shame, because I love, love, love the idea of this book — the children of Holmes and Watson teaming up with the added possibility of romance. It has great bones…(heh, heh). But in the end, I must conclude… Boneseeker just didn’t deliver.