Friday, May 4, 2012

The Crack in the Lens, Part 2

I thought about just editing my last entry, but decided against it.  I forgot something I'd wanted to mention.  Ms Cypser mentioned that the title of this novel was an integral part of it and too important to even consider changing.  Early on in The Crack in the Lens, Sherlock and Violet are talking by a river, and Sherlock has brought the magnifying glass that I believe it was his grandfather gave him.  Violet is holding it when she slips and falls into the river.  Sherlock rescues her, but she dropped the magnifying glass and an upper part of it cracked.  She says something about how it can still be used, if he doesn't look through the cracked part of the lens.

I thought it was an interesting way to incorporate the title into the book, but it didn't seem to be such an unchangeable aspect of it as was implied previously.  And as the book was drawing to a close, with a snowstorm, Sherlock in the throes of a devastating fever, and then his emotional despair, I was wondering when the true importance of the title was going to come into play.  I was wondering if it would, period.

The ending did not disappoint.  Sherlock has recovered from the fever, but is succumbing to that emotional despair.  Sherrinford, in something of a panic, tells Mycroft to come as quickly as he can, and convinces Sherlock to hold on until his other older brother comes home.  Sherlock agrees, and when Mycroft arrives, they talk.  And that's where the true importance of The Crack in the Lens comes into play.

As I said, I loved this book, and I'm so thankful to Ms Cypser for sending me an earlier copy, because otherwise, it would have been several weeks before I could have procured and read this gem of a book.

Going into more detail of what I touched on in the past entry, there are so many things about this book that are handled so well, yet in another author's hands, wouldn't have worked well at all.  The romance between Sherlock and Violet, as well as his clashing with Professor Moriarty, and his frustrated acceptance of his father's berating all work in a practically perfect balance.  The reader can clearly see in the young Holmes many aspects that will stay with him to adulthood, as well as many aspects that he refuses to tolerate in others once he is in a position to fight against them.

 Of course, with things he will fight against, Professor Moriarty comes immediately to mind.  I admit, part of me was asking why she picked Moriarty to be the professor.  Was it just a plot device to help the story along?  Was it generally accepted that Moriarty really taught Holmes?  (Was Moriarty really that much older?  I always had the impression that while he may have looked older, that they were of comparable age.)  As per her comment on the last entry, I see it's generally accepted that Moriarty was his tutor.  (Also, to Larry, as far as I know, Rathe, aka - 'Moriarty' in Young Sherlock Holmes wasn't Holmes's math tutor.  Fencing teacher, yes.  Mentor of a sort, yes.  But I don't believe it's ever said that he is Holmes's math teacher.)  Anyway, I love how the insidious plots of Moriarty to discredit Holmes to his own father don't fall into the normal cliches.  There's one part where Holmes enlists the aid of a young boy named Jonathan.  He's helping Jonathan learn to fence, and in the part I'm thinking of, Jonathan gets Violet and while she hides nearby, Sherlock and Jonathan fence and when Sherlock can, he ducks into the shadows and steals a few precious minutes with Violet.  Moriarty looks out the window and sees Holmes fencing and then disappearing out of view for minutes at a time.  Any other novel would have seen something like the following scenario happen: Moriarty would decide to follow Sherlock one day, catch him with Violet, a confrontation would erupt, Moriarty and Sherlock would race back to see who would get to the father first, but it wouldn't matter because not only would Moriarty be automatically believed, but Sherlock would be discredited for being with a woman 'below his station,' and that's how the romance would end.  Ms Cypser picked a much more tragic, much less cliche way to go about things.

I love how she went into detail with the lives of at least Sherrinford and his wife, Amanda.  It fleshed out the story in a very realistic way.  Unfortunately, I feel like Mrs. Holmes kind of got lost in the background.  Indeed, I actually forgot she was around most of the time.  But Sherrinford, Amanda, Squire Holmes, even Mycroft, who is absent for a good deal of the novel, one has the sense that their lives are truly going on in the background of the story, and that very much made this a more enjoyable read, because it gave it so much fuller of a feeling.

I just wanted to come back and give a more thorough review of this novel, because honestly, I can't praise it enough.  As I said when I finished the previous entry, I can't wait to read the sequel trilogy.


  1. Yes, you are correct about the Young Sherlock Holmes movie. I didn't mean to imply any different. My point was only that you seemed to imply that Ms. Cypser got the idea of Moriarty having a role in Holmes education from the movie. It is clear that some of the ideas she employed (like the basic structure of the Holmes immediate family) came from the hoary tradition of Sherlockian Scholarship, something which I enjoyed and appreciated about her novel.

  2. Ah, I hadn't understood that that was what you meant. No, I by no means meant to imply that she may have inadvertently or purposely taken an idea from that movie. Honestly, the only reason I mentioned Young Sherlock Holmes at all is because of this sentence: "But I didn't until I read the father telling Young Sherlock Holmes..." I had typed up to 'young Sherlock' when I realized what I was almost quoting, so I decided to throw in the word 'Holmes,' just to have the movie title in there. Even amongst Holmes fans, I never assume that people have seen that movie, because I've found that generally, Young Sherlock Holmes is unfortunately that obscure. :)