Ever wondered what happened to Sherlock Homes, after he fell over the Reichenbach Falls and was presumed drowned ?
The only clue generations of Sherlock Homes fans had were two meagre sentences beginning “I travelled for 2 years in Tibet…”
Jamyang Norbu’s clever, well-written novel fills in these missing 2 years, thanks to a cache of documents which were in the possession of a well-known Bengali scholar who goes by the name of Hurree Chunder Mookerjee.
Yes. The very same. Hurree Chunder Mookerjee of “Kim” fame.
The tone for this fun, light-hearted book is set in the preface, when the author tells us how he came upon Hurree’s documents, which a retired tea-planter in Darjeeling had found hidden in a wall that fell down during an earthquake. The tea-planter is the great grandson of Hurree Chunder Mookerjee – and from this moment on, the line between fact and fiction has been so skilfully blurred, that you do not know quite where it lies.
What ensues is a clever fusing of two worlds and two great characters, who then set off on an exciting adventure together in Tibet. No reviewer ever wishes to spoil the pleasures of a great read, by revealing too many details, but suffice it to say that Holmes’s arch-enemy and bitter rival, Moriarty, is also a character in the book.
There are so many period details, and references and anecdotes that from time to time you catch yourself believing in the whole adventure. Of course, why shouldn’t Hurree Chunder and Sherlock Holmes have met up ?
You read how irritated Hurree Chunder Mookerjee is with the flippancy with which “one Mr Rudyard Kipling, late of the Allahabad Pioneer” coined the term the Great Game, which he feels isn’t respectful enough to the diplomatic work of the Ethnological Survey…And it’s at that point that you realise you have been caught in a web of great skill.
The combination of Conan Doyle + Rudyard Kipling, set against the backdrop of mysterious Lhasa makes for a winning formula.
“The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes” is published in India by Harper Collins and is priced at Rs 250.
It’s a great read, and if you feel like buying the book now you have read this review, then just click on the link below :