Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Crack in the Lens - Darlene Cypser

Darlene Cypser's The Crack in the Lens, I can honestly say, is not a book I liked.

It is a book I LOVED.


Sherlock Holmes is seventeen in this novel and has just returned to Mycroft Manor after spending two years in France, recovering from an illness and building up his physical strength by learning fencing and boxing.  When he is back at the manor, his father, Squire Holmes, doesn't let him dillydally for long,  He gets him a math tutor, because he expects his youngest son to go to university and become an engineer.  I should have seen it coming.  I really should have.  But I didn't until I read the father telling Young Sherlock Holmes (sorry, had to get that movie title in,) that his new tutor "wrote a treatise on the binomial theorum," and my mouth dropped open.  Because who, as a Sherlock Holmes fan, doesn't know who wrote that treatise?  Of course, it is the one and only Professor James Moriarty.

Holmes and Moriarty clash, but Moriarty wins over everyone else in the household and is able, throughout the novel, to completely discredit Sherlock to his father.

But that's only part of it.  Sherlock, while riding on the moors, meets a young woman named Violet Rushdale, who works on the land that the squire has.  They fall in love, but I won't give too much away about that.

I got a slightly earlier edition of this novel, straight from Ms Cypser, for which I'm very grateful.  One thing I noticed with this edition, though, aside from the occasional missed quote at the beginning or end of a line, and (I admit, this is just what I'm used to, others may feel differently,) the non-italics French lines within the novel.  It was just odd to see something in French not written like this.  Anyway, I noticed not misspellings, but extra words added into the lines at times.  This isn't a direct quote from the book, but an example would be something like as follows:

"Sherlock mounted his horse again and as he as galloped across the moor..."

That extra 'as.'  There were quite a few examples of things like that throughout the book and as a reader, it threw me a bit.

Again, though, this is a slightly earlier edition, so perhaps Ms Cypser went through and checked/corrected these things.

Anyway, this novel, in anyone else's hands, probably would have been a horrible mess.  But Ms Cypser handles it with care, knowledge, and excellence.  It truly is a story about Holmes's character being forged through fire, so to speak.  The kind of character Sherlock Holmes is is not created easily or pleasantly.  And this book deals with those issues with absolute excellence.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in Sherlock Holmes, and anyone interested in quality literature.  I, for one, can't wait for the trilogy sequel.  :)


  1. You scared me there with that first line. I just wanted to read enough of your review to see whether you liked it or not, and planner to finish it later, so I existeren in this world fora little while thinking you did not like it. Fortunately, I soon came back to find out why.

    I agree, it is a really well-done piece of Sherlock Holmes related literature. It is precisely because Ms. Cypser employs ideas from Sherlockian Scholarship ( the source of the idea that Moriarty was Holmes math tutor predates the Young Sherlock Holmes movie) that her series may well turn out to be the definitive Holmes biographer.

  2. Thank you both for your kind words.

    I do want to give credit to my pre-readers. After I spend years working on my books I enlist about a dozen Sherlockians to read the "final draft" and comment on it. Then I revise it again. I think the result is always a stronger book.

    The idea of Moriarty being Sherlock's tutor dates to at least the 1950s and W.S. Baring-Gould's biography which appeared in a few forms before being printed as "Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street." That book is now out of print but used copies can be found.

    Obviously, Nicholas Meyer turned the idea on its head in "The Seven Percent Solution." Both preceded Speilberg's movie by years. (I never watched that movie or read Mona Morstein's book before I finished this book. So any resemblance is a coincidence of Sherlockian minds thinking alike.)

    I see you are just offering that sentence as sample of the types of errors you saw because that particular line does not really appear in the book. For a list of the actual errors in that version, people can visit: All of those have been corrected in the current version.

    I guess I have only seen foreign *quotes* in italics and not foreign dialogue. No one has mentioned it before. It is worth researching.


  3. It's so funny, but when I read the first sentence of your review I was..well, I guess bewildered is the right word. "Wow," I thought, "Why didn't she like this book?" And then I read on, and was much relieved, lol!

    Leah Guinn