I know I told you as my readers that I would be reviewing an audiobook based on the real world events of Operation Argo in my previous article but…shall we say I was ‘persuaded’ to take a detour? (Ignore the knife. Ignore the knife!) One to the world of London smog, ‘civilised gentlemen’ criminals and the Peelers. If the name Andy Weir is at all familiar to you it’s likely to be because of his two famous science fiction novels The Martian and Artemis. (I also previously reviewed the audiobook of The Martian in case you are interested)
This audiobook however as you may be able to guess from its title isn’t exactly science fiction. It’s Holmesian of a sort. Instead of following Dr Watson or someone similar…the listener follows a relatively small time crook. Someone who happens to gain the professional respect of Professor Moriarty and become something of a collaborator. Long time Holmes fans or those who remember some of the more famous names can probably guess exactly who this may be.
The audio drama of sorts is a trilogy of short stories – an hour long Audible exclusive – which all are analogous to Holmes stories. First we have the very short The Adventure Of The Dishonour Among Thieves. This adventure is the first meeting between the two focus characters as our narrator hires Moriarty to find out who it was that told the police about his plans and businesses. Who was the snitch?Once the ‘introductions’ are out of the way we move on to The Adventure Of The Unscrupulous Assassin. Who would be so bold as to attempt to assassinate the daughter of the most powerful crime lord in London? The final story is my personal favourite: The Adventure Of The Sealed Room. What would happen if Professor Moriarty, the future Napoleon of Crime was to be accused of…and arrested for a crime he didn’t commit!
The stories definitely feel to me as though they were in the same spirit as the originals. These two might not be able to walk in such ‘exalted’ circles as Holmes and Watson but regardless there is plenty of deductive reasoning and some rather fun surprises here and there. I won’t deny I’d love to hear more stories written by Andy Weir. Especially something longer in length like the original Conan Doyle novels. I know the odds aren’t exactly high but I can’t help but hope. Some listeners may have the odd criticism here and there – especially the extremely dedicated Sherlockians – most likely in terms of certain small details I haven’t noticed or some specifics of the logic used in the solutions but as a casual Sherlock fan and someone who enjoys the trappings of the detective genre I found myself lost in the flow of the story. So I hope some of you enjoy this along with me!The stories are definitely well written with Moriarty certainly seeming to match his reputation as the equal of Holmes so no matter what I find them an entertaining diversion.
The narration duties for this audiobook are performed by Graeme Malcom who definitely performs the characters well. Quite frankly Professor Moriarty’s voice is disturbingly persuasive when he’s trying to convince people to help him. Just the right level of cultured diplomacy courtesy of the upper classes. But the second you irritate him you hear the steel under the smoothness. Anger this version of the Professor? And you could easily imagine your own personal Reichenbach in your future. The storyteller character of sorts is also interesting. He mainly acts as Moriarty’s personal dogsbody and chronicler but there’s just enough there to tell that even though he isn’t quite as powerful or dangerous as the Professor, he’d be more than willing to slit your throat if he got the chance. His performances as the one off characters are enough to allow you to believe in them for the sake of the story. There weren’t any obvious poorly performed voices that irritated – as can often be the case with audiobooks. ESPECIALLY period stories – so all characters were performed to a suitable level of polish.
My only real criticism – if it even counts as one at all! – is the fact that I wish there had been more stories than the three with which the listener is provided. Especially since the introductory story is somewhat intentionally short I certainly wouldn’t have minded if there had been…two more? Two more at the approximate length of stories two and three would have brought the total length to somewhere either approaching or just over the two hour mark which would also mean that the listener wouldn’t be pulled out of the Holmes setting just as you had gotten comfortable. I understand that one hour is one of the default lengths for shorter audiobooks and audio dramas – just ask Radio 4 – but just because it is one of the standards doesn’t mean you have to end the collection there. I would have been happy to pay a little more money for some extra content.
However despite my complaints about its length the trilogy of stories we are given is definitely an interesting taste at a possible origin for the Professor’s criminal network. We are there at the nucleus of one of the most dastardly men in Victorian London! Andy Weir certainly gives us some interesting possibilities and I hope he could be persuaded to write some more stories be they for Moriarty or Holmes.
This time around I won’t tell you quite what I’m planning for my next review because you never know just what might distract or divert the original plan.