Friday, 6 March 2015

Elementary: The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher (Titan Books)

I review Adam Christopher’s Elementary: The Ghost Line, published by Titan Books as a tie-in to the awesome CBS TV series, Elementary – a modern reworking of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes in New York.  It’s the first Elementary tie-in novel and is currently available to buy in both the UK and the USA.

Summons to a bullet-riddled body in a Hell’s Kitchen apartment marks the start of a new case for consulting detectives Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. The victim is a subway train driver with a hidden stash of money and a strange Colombian connection, but why would someone kill him and leave a fortune behind?

The search for the truth will lead the sleuths deep into the hidden underground tunnels beneath New York City, where answers—and more bodies—may well await them...

I’m a massive fan of the Elementary TV series, having recently completed the first season in my attempt to catch-up so I can watch the next season, season four, with the rest of the world. It’s quickly won me over with its fun plots and a superb take on modernizing the Sherlock Holmes characters in a way superior to that of the BBC series, Sherlock (which is good in its own right) and over the course of the season that I’ve seen so far, Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have really impressed in the lead roles as Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson respectively. Therefore, when Adam Christopher, who’s one of those authors who I’ll literally read anything that he can bring to the table, would be doing the show’s first tie-in novel, I knew there would be no way in hell I was going to miss this. And thankfully, Elementary: The Ghost Line did not disappoint, serving as a fascinating addition to the Elementary world and making it a must read for fans of the series. One of the most appealing parts is that you don’t even have to be caught up to understand what’s going on – all you have to do is know the basic premise of the show and its characters and you should be able to enjoy it just fun, hence why I felt safe reading this even though I was still two seasons behind.

The latest case for Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson takes them to an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. The victim is a subway train driver who has a mysterious Colombian connection, but that’s not the oddest part of the mystery, because what’s clear is that it wasn’t a robbery gone wrong, because a considerable sum of money has been left untouched by the killer. And what follows is a fascinating case that will take them deep into the underground tunnels beneath New York City, as well as a frequent increase in bodycount.

Tie-in novels tend to be hit and miss for me (for example, the first Originals tie-in by Julie Plec was very much a miss), but Adam Christopher’s The Ghost Line has hit the ground running. It’s fun, boasting the familiar levels of humour that comes with the show, and incredibly entertaining with some great characterisations of Sherlock and Watson that feel right at home with the TV series. In fact, it’s written so well that this book actually feels like it could be an episode of the TV series, and as a result, fans will really enjoy this. If you know enough about the show but haven’t actually seen the series yet and are thinking of picking this up because of Adam Christopher’s awesome work that he’s done in the past (Empire State, Seven Wonders, The Burning Dark etc are all worth reading if you’re unfamiliar) and not because of the show then you should find it fairly accessible.

The characters that fans will be familiar with from the TV show that aren’t necessarily Sherlock and Joan make an appearance here as well. Bell, Alfredo, and Captain Gregson are some of the more enjoyable characters to come out of Elementary and it’s great to see how well they’re used here. Like with Watson and Holmes, they have all the quirks, mannerisms and personality of their TV counterparts and you could easily be reading this book with the voices of the characters in your head. None of these characters make any decisions that feel out of character and it’s great to see that Christopher nails it.

The plot itself is one of the most interesting parts of the novel as Christopher has the luxury of not being confined to a TV budget to weave what turns out to be an awesome story. The new and unfamiliar mystery presented within the pages is great to see and you’ll get through it very quickly with plenty of twists and turns that build up with some great tension that will keep fans, and newcomers to Elementary alike – hooked from the word go.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

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