The Moonstone's Curse


Sam Siciliano


Mystery / Thriller


Date Reviewed:

December 31, 2020

he Moonstone's Curse is one volume in a series called The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes published by Titan Books. At the time of this writing, there appears to be 43 books in the series, penned by multiple authors. The Moonstone's Curse is written by Sam Siciliano, who has published seven books in the series. Clearly, I could spend a year reading nothing but Sherlock Holmes stories, but I am not that enamored with detective stories. Besides, this story was just okay, not fantastic.

Siciliano's first Sherlock Holmes book was The Angel of the Opera. Perhaps I should have read that book first, it might explain why Sherlock's side kick isn't Dr Watson, but instead is a cousin of Holmes named Henry Vernier. The odd thing is that Siciliano has written Henry Vernier exactly like the missing Dr. Watson. Vernier himself is a doctor, the story is told from his perspective, just like Watson's role. Why replace Watson with a Watson-clone? Both Holmes and Vernier shudder at the mention of Watson's name, but why?

The case appears to be a sorta-sequel to a Victorian novel The Moonstone written by Wilkie Collins in 1868. I have not read The Moonstone, yet everything in this novel made sense to me, so prior knowledge of the first book is not necessary.

The Moonstone's Curse begins with the visit of Charles Bromley to 221B Baker Street. Charles is married to Alice Bromley, who has inherited a fabulous gem called the Moonstone. It is a large diamond. Unfortunately, Alice believes that the gem is cursed, it caused nothing but misery in her family, directly leading to her mother's suicide. Lately, Alice has expressed fears that she is being haunted by the face of an angry Indian scowling at her from the window (the Moonstone gem was stolen from India, apparently that is the plot of the Wilkie Collins novel). Alice wants to sell the diamond, but Charles doesn't believe in curses, and besides, the family will dictates that the gem cannot be sold, but must be handed down from generation to generation.

Holmes agrees to visit Alice Bromley, and Dr Henry Vernier goes along with him. They do an interview, check out the mansion and the servants. Later, Holmes disguises himself so he and Henry can pay a visit to the Bromley's jeweler. The case turns more serious when the jeweler is found murdered a few days later. Is his death related to the Moonstone curse?

!!! ***** Spoiler Alert ***** !!!

In these next paragraphs, I want to discuss some aspects of the plot, so skip the rest of this review if you intend to read the novel

When Holmes and Vernier visit the jewelers, the jeweler tries to get Vernier to buy a necklace of diamonds and sapphires for his wife. Vernier cannot afford such an extravagant gift, but the jeweler tells Vernier that the diamonds are paste, not authenticate. So it was obvious why the jeweler is killed. It is also obvious who the villain is.

When the Moonstone is inevitably stolen, the hole cut in the window is an obvious red herring and I couldn't believe even Lestrade would fall for that. I was wrong though about who sent the stolen jewel to the Indians - I thought that is was a ruse by Holmes himself to lure the criminals out of hiding. Holmes immediately figures out the combination of the impossible-to-open-safe (is anyone really so naive as to use their birthday as the combination for their lock?), so I thought that he had expected the theft and done a pre-emptive theft of his own. I thought the shenanigans about swapping the bottle of laudanum were a bad idea - if Holmes truly suspected that Alice's life was in danger, then he should have gotten Alice to a place of safety, not carried out this dangerous scheme just to trick the killer. Oddly, everyone seems to think risking Alice's life is okay to trap the villain.

There are literally dozens more books in this series about the Further adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but I don't know if I enjoyed this enough to seek them out. The original Conan Doyle stories, which include Watson!, are more entertaining.