When it comes to Sherlock Holmes books, Titan do not have a track record for hitting it out of the park every time. The White Worm sadly continues this trend.
It’s another outing for Sherlock Holmes where Dr Henry Vernier takes the place of Watson for some reason. We appreciate the attempt at a new perspective, but it doesn’t really help to make the book more interesting. Even with the addition of a giant worm, the mystery is fairly boring. Vernier spends most of the novel either pining for his wife or being incredulous about things. Sometimes both. The only really interesting part of it is the romantic subplot, with an intriguing secret behind it. True, the eventual explanation for this boils down to ‘well, ain’t Victorian society a hell of a thing?’ but we found it a pleasant diversion from an otherwise turgid story.
Though pedestrian, it’s written well enough and maintains what limp plot it has at a satisfying pace. We liked the fact that the book avoided that annoying ‘I must gather my suspects in the accusing parlor before I reveal all’ approach taken by so many other Sherlockian outings. When Vernier thinks Sherlock knows what’s going on, he asks for an answer and gets it. That was nice to read.
The association with another classic work of literature (it’s based partially on Bram Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm) isn’t enough to save this. It’s hard to imagine what could be. We’re not saying it’s bad. It’s simply boring, which is almost worse. We read all the way through but didn’t really feel like that it was worth it. You don’t have to look far for better Sherlock Holmes books. Titan themselves do another Further Adventures range which has about a 50% hit rate. Alternatively you could seek out many of the other Sherlock books out there; lord knows there are so many these days it’s difficult to know where to start. But after reading this review, hopefully you’ll know where to stop.
SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE WHITE WORM / AUTHOR: SAM SICILIANO / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: 12TH FEBRUARY