Cover Image: Holmes Coming

Holmes Coming

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this, I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and other modern Holmes retellings. They always have a flare to the original. I enjoyed the way Kenneth Johnson wrote this book, it could work as a both a Sherlock book and original novel. I really had a great time reading this and hope Mr. Johnson writes another mystery book.

"Standing there, facing Booth, Holmes knew he could elim-inate the guards behind him. His scuffle with the street teens had been but a mere trifle compared to the lethal force he could unleash when necessary. His full-blown baritsu attack could be debilitating, even deadly."
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Here is the premise of this book: 
Sherlock Holmes (real historical figure) decided to freeze himself for over a hundred years in order to solve the crimes of the future (he got bored with the crimes of his own time). Doctor Amy Winslow finds Holmes — recently thawed in 2022 — and decides to take this (insane?) man in. Holmes quickly finds himself a case to solve: a person murdered with an attack tiger, and goes in search of a new nemesis to entertain himself with. 

The writing style of this book is highly reminiscent of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories. It is narrated by Dr. Winslow with all of the Victorian flair. 

How goofy! How amusing! Yes, it is those things. However, this book is so much more. It is also a story about characters. 
This is a story where Holmes has gone from being the smartest man in the room to the most ignorant one. This is a story where Holmes is now obsolete due to modern CSI. This is a story with him coming to terms with his Grand Plan of travelling to the future to save the world failing miserable, as he realizes that the world doesn't need him. 

I loved this book. I loved the characters. I loved the writing style. The classing Sherlock Holmes stories didn't work for me (too dry), but this novel certainly did. 

A video review including this book will premiere on my Youtube channel in the coming weeks, at https://www.youtube.com/ChloeFrizzle

Thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.
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What a great premise! It is not giving away anything to tell you that this is Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century - but it isn't what you would think! Interestingly, at the same time as I was reading this e-ARC (thank you, NetGalley, for the opportunity!), I was finally getting around to watching the 2010-2017 TV series (starring Khan and Bilbo Baggins 😁) so I could compare versions as things roll along - I read a little more slowly than I might otherwise, as I stopped to compare points in the book, and I suspect other people might enjoy doing the same thing.

As with the TV series, there are things that reference various episodes in Conan Doyle's original books without actually being exact re-enactments of them. Some are obvious, others less so - part of the fun is looking for those echoes.

Slight spoiler here:
Some of the funniest parts are when Holmes' deductions from observations run up against the many things he doesn't know about the 21st century. 

The ending of the book leaves open the possibility of sequels, and I would look forward to seeing further developments! Despite a few things that didn't appeal to me (see below), the fact that I want to read more made this a 5-star book!

A small quibble or two: our protagonist made it through medical school and is a pediatric surgeon, so it's pretty annoying to have her be really stupid about an ex-boyfriend, freaking out if anyone even mentions his name. (Note: the guy was just a jerk, not abusive or anything else traumatic.) 

Also, I never thought I would say something like this, but, especially at the beginning, there was too much description, if that's a thing, with every street corner, no matter how irrelevant, being described, and every person receiving adjectives as they are introduced. (A mall was described as both "new" and "recently built" in the same sentence.) However, some people may find that this helps them see the scene, rather than finding it, as I did, distracting from the action. I mention it so that you can decide whether that's a good thing for you.  

At the end of the book, there's a note that says that "a portion of the author's proceeds from this work goes to benefit Doctors Without Borders," a charity which is also mentioned in the book, as protagonist Dr. Winslow's parents were in Sumatra with Doctors Without Borders after an earthquake.
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Mr. Johnson obviously wants this to be a series featuring an 19th century Holmes and a 21st century pediatric physician Amy Winslow. The setting is present day San Francisco. Sherlock, depressed because there are no crimes worth pursuing after Moriarty's death, moves to San Franciso (why?), entombs himself in a capsule designed to open in 2025 (why?) and is accidently awakened 3 years early by Dr. Winslow in the basement of the 3rd generation Mrs. Hudson (what?). 
There have been more than a dozen Holmes spin-offs since Doyle wrote his last one in the past hundred years. The more successful ones are from authors who truly love and revere the Sherlockian universe. Mr. Johnson does not display that same reverence in this novel. More than half of the novel is exposition on Holmes relationships with the literary geniuses of 19th century London, a reminder to the reader of Holmes less than likable character traits, and his nearly miraculous ability to absorb all the scientific marvels of the past century in one night with a computer and Wikipedia (really?).
However, for this to become a popular mystery/cozy series with women the character of Amy Winslow needs to change.  I didn't for a moment believe her as a modern-day Dr. Watson. In one scene Amy, a Stanford-educated daughter of a Stanford-educated physician mother, displays her frustration with Holmes by "stamping her foot" (OMG - really?). Sherlock treats he with disdain and disrespect which seems to be a turn-on for her because she never once demands that he sit down, shut up, and understand the societal changes of the past 50 years. Perhaps it is because Amy spends the majority of her time lusting after him. 
Mr. Johnson has a good start if the intention is to write Sherlockian romance novels. As a serious contender in the Holmes mysteries it needs to be more realistic of a dinosaur in a modern liberal San Francisco, and it definitely needs to respect the feminist roots for Dr. Winslow. It is insulting to create a simpering, foot-stomping, sex-addled woman as Holmes new Watson.
Two stars for murder by tiger.
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This was a wonderful twist on Sherlock Holmes, but it didn't quite live up to my standards. It was written ok, the characters were good. I just didn't care for the story plot.
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A fun read with some humor along the way. It seems risky to create another Holmes story, particularly one set in modern times. But this worked quite well. Recommended.

I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!
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I must confess that I went into this book with a sense of trepidation.  I'm a big Sherlock Holmes fan, having read the canon many times.  Holmes traveling through time?  It just sounded weird.  But, after reading Holmes Coming, I have to say that it is among the best books I have read in the last year.  And I read a lot of books.

Surprisingly, the scientific explanation as to how Holmes travels from the Victorian period to the present makes quite a bit of sense.  Emotionally, it makes a lot of sense.  The explanation of how Sherlock Holmes really existed in a complicated arrangement with the real Dr. Watson and a struggling writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, was probably the biggest stretch.  But with a little suspension of belief, it worked.

Dr. Amy Winslow is a modern doctor in San Francisco.  When she first witnesses the revival of someone claiming to be Sherlock Holmes, she doesn't believe it.  Who would?  But the blend of Holmes discovering all of the changes of the last century and Amy slowly coming to grips that he is who he says he is makes for an interesting read.  

While the ending was a bit more of "The Streets of San Francisco" than The Hound of the Baskervilles, it was still a pleasant experience.  The book set the stage for a series of enjoyable books.  And a movie or two would would be a treat.
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I liked it very much. It's just a fun romp and exactly what I wanted it to be given it's stellar premise.

It's got plenty of plot to keep things moving on 3 different fronts, but the real star of the show, as it should be, is Sherlock. 

This is a wonderful version of our favorite detective, full of all the acerbic humor and brilliant deductions we have come to expect.

And the lead female character, Amy, is a perfectly spunky foil to Mr. Holmes. She delights in not only showing him around 21st century America, but also around the new cultural mores of this world. A woman can be a doctor? An astronaut? A vice president? And for his part, Holmes adapts quickly and well, to these new gender roles and to all things technological, which delight him.

I also was delighted by the notion of Sherlock Holmes finding himself in San Francisco. We see him in London, of course, and in NYC in my favorite Holmes adaptation, Elementary. But he really finds his feet in San Francisco - it fits his personality so well - and I was so happy to spend some time with him in that eccentric, beautiful, foggy city.

I will say that there's no question that anyone who loves Holmes will enjoy this story. There is so much canon used to great effect there. But, if you have never dipped into Holmes, I fear 70% of the enjoyment would be lost, so for that reason, I want to be sure to issue that warning.

But, if you love all things Holmes, you are going to want to check out the unfortunately titled, but delightful Holmes Coming by Kenneth Johnson.
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I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes! I love reading the old stories, and I especially love seeing authors expand Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work by writing the famous detective into new stories and new timelines. Kenneth Johnson's "Holmes Coming" does something with Sherlock I have never seen. Yes, I have read the books where Holmes is living in present day, and watched the TV shows like "Sherlock" and "Elementary." But what I haven't seen before, and thought was just so much fun, was having turn of the 20th century Sherlock Holmes in present day having to adapt to 21st century advances and catch up on all the crime he's missed for the last 100 years. I thought this was a smart twist and Johnson executes it splendidly. 

"Holmes Coming" opens in the emergency room with Dr. Amy Winslow trying to save the life of an SFPD police captain, who has been brutally attacked by a Bengal tiger while out on his morning jog. Unable to save the captain. Amy gives her condolences to his close friend Lieutenant Ortega not realizing Ortega is going to become a part of her life in a big way. The next day Amy goes to visit an old friend Mrs. Hudson, who informs her that she unfortunately has to sell her house and wonders if Amy is interested in buying it. While exploring the house, Amy comes across a hidden cellar containing 1899 electrochemical lab equipment, and a chamber housing the body of a man who suddenly springs to life. This man claims to be the inspiration for the famous Victorian era detective, Sherlock Holmes. Feeling as though he has caught all the criminals and solved all the crimes that his era would provide, Holmes had put himself into a deep sleep for over a hundred years in hopes of waking up in a new era with new adversaries and crimes to solve. The first being, who stole his money and personal documents that he had hidden away within the secret cellar. While on the search for his belongings, Holmes begins to explore San Francisco and all the 21st century has to offer, while finding himself entangled in the tiger killing case and Lt. Ortega's disappearance, with a new Watson in Amy and perhaps a familiar foe. 

I really enjoyed this book! It was an easy read, yet felt like it was filled with so much detail and plot. The characters were entertaining and engaging. I quite liked watching Sherlock learn the ways of the 21st century, and I literally laughed out loud reading him converse with his new Irregular, Zapper. Slang just isn't in Sherlock's repertoire just yet, and it was a hoot seeing him learn everything on the fly. It's refreshing to see Sherlock actually have to learn something, instead of already having knowledge of the subject. This novel really does have the spirit of Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories, but Johnson has done a great job of infusing his own voice and humor into the story. I am not sure if this is meant to be the beginning of the series, as I felt the end of the book did have a definite ending, but if Johnson does choose to make this a series, I would continue to read it. 

I did have two little baby issues however. The first being, I wasn't a fan of some of the characters of color's dialogue. Not everyone who is younger and comes from rougher neighborhoods speaks improperly. I felt it was playing into a stereotype when it really didn't suit the characters, especially Zapper who is a genius with electronics and visits the library to check out books every day. Secondly, I really appreciated the gender flip on "Watson" by having Amy be a woman. But for crying out loud, does every male and female character who work closely together have to have some kind of sexual tension and feelings? Can they not just be platonic friends and colleagues? 

Overall, I thought this was a fun, entertaining and engaging book. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will love it! Thank you Net Galley and Blackstone Publishing for giving me an advance copy.
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A  modern day Sherlock Holmesqusic mystery that even though I did love I did enjoy reading as it kept me guessing until the end.
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