Happily, The Well-Read Sherlockian blog has not ignored Holmes Sweet Holmes, granting this second volume in the Sebastian McCabe - Jeff Cody series a solid four and a half stars out of a possible five.
Even better, the blog this week served up an in-depth review that gets all the details of the book and its characters right, plus makes some very perceptive comments about fiction in general. She concludes that readers love to follow a series because of they love the characters:
It’s common to distinguish between genre and literary fiction by saying the first emphasizes plot, while the other gives greater weight to character. While there is a bit of truth to this, I think we can all agree that it’s simplistic–and argue that the best series succeed, not because of plot (although we like plot, don’t lose plot), but because of their characters. Any book can have a car chase; not any book can have a Pendergast car chase. Any (and apparently all) cop novels can have a tortured, military veteran detective with a messed-up personal life…but only one of those is Harry Bosch. And how many amateur sleuths are crawling through the British Isles on any given day? Still, there is only one “consulting detective” in the world. In the end, it’s the author’s ability to create characters we love, characters who grow, yet are still relatable, who seem as familiar to us as, well, family† that keep us coming back to a series.A little later in the review, The Well-Read Sherlockian makes this interesting point::
Which was why I was so glad to catch up with Jefferson Cody again.
This is, of course, a blog specializing in Sherlock Holmes-related writing, so naturally, most of the books will feature the actual Holmes and Watson. We know them rather well. So well, that I think it’s fair to say that, although we love books in which those characters are treated with depth and sensitivity, we will be tolerant of more wooden portrayals, as long as they don’t overstep the mental boundaries we’ve created for them. An author like Andriacco, writing about his own characters, doesn’t have that luxury. He can’t rely upon us to fill in any blanks with our headcanons; his people have to live on their own, immediately–and they do.The reviewer mentions all of the major and many of the minor characters. I especially like what she has to say about Jeff Cody, who narrates the story but insists he is not just a Watson. The reason I like it is that the review sees Jeff as I do, as comically flawed but ultimately sympathetic: :
Jefferson Cody is still the slightly neurotic, uptight man who is not at all thrilled with being his brother-in-law’s sidekick. You have to feel for Jeff; it’s hard to live in the sizable shadow of a family member who’s managed to achieve what you’ve long wanted for yourself. As a PR director, Cody is quite adept at diplomacy and “spin,” but, privy to his thoughts as we are, we get to see his jealousies, judgments and insecurities without the benefit of a social filter. One might be forgiven for thinking that Ms. Teal could do better than a guy who drinks caffeine-free diet cola while silently criticizing his date’s cholesterol bomb, but then we see how he silently proposes to her in nearly every interaction, how he notices everything about her, how he’s made genuine efforts to be “less directional” (read: controlling)–and how his ringtone for her is Ravel’s “Boléro.” This is a man in love.But don't take my word for it that The Well-Read Sherlockian is a great blog. Check io out for yourself and bookmark the site for many happy returns.