Sherlock Holmes: The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove

‘Not another Sherlock Homes novel!’ I am sure I hear some of you dear readers cry. Yes, another Sherlock Holmes novel. Why? Why not?

It is spring in 1895 and Sherlock Holmes is adjusting to life once more at 221B Baker Street. When news from the towering spires of Oxford University reach his ears however, the game once more is afoot.

Professor Quantock has created an incredible machine that he claims can rival the most astute minds – including Sherlock Holmes. When the newspapers place a wager between man and machine, Holmes cannot resist a challenge. He and Watson travel to Oxford’s hallowed halls to take on the clever thinking engine where the two compete to be the first to solve a series of crimes. At first the crimes seem unconnected but as Holmes and Watson dig deeper they begin to uncover more clues that point to the Thinking Machine perhaps having its own agenda.

As much as I love the influx of new Sherlock Holmes stories, unfortunately The Thinking Engine is not one of the best. Lovegrove’s previous Holmes novel The Gods of War was excellent and I was hoping this second book would be as good as the previous, but alas it is not.

That is not to say this wasn’t a good book; far from it in fact. While the mysteries were well thought out and executed and the story itself was overall quite good, it just did not feel like a Sherlock Holmes novel. At some points the characterizations were so off; especially that of Holmes. At times it felt like Holmes was almost a caricature of himself.

As for the thrilling climax, I found it almost laughable. It was not the kind of ending I was looking for and it felt quite trite. The ending felt rushed and wasn’t very satisfying. Yes, the good guys won and the bad guys got their comeuppance; it just didn’t feel right though. It could have been handled so much better.

As much as I enjoy reading and rereading Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels, The Thinking Engine is one I will likely not read again. The characters whom I normally find so fascinating were not at all engaging and the end left me feeling let down.

Only the most die-hard Holmes fans should consider this one even if it’s to complete their collection. Casual Holmes fans can give this one a pass.

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