After killing Moriarty and faking his own death in “The Adventure of the Final Problem” Sherlock Holmes goes missing for a few years. On his re-appearance in “The Adventure of the Empty House“, the readers become aware that Holmes has spent this time travelling to various places including India and Tibet. Jamyang Norbu’s novel “The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes” is about Holmes’ adventures in India and Tibet during this period. Accompanied by an Indian spy, Huree Chunder Mookerjee, (who plays a role very similar to Watson) Holmes travels to India, where he dodges a few attempts on his life from Colonel Moran. Then he travels to Tibet and saves Dalai Lama’s life.
A great premise – a book on Holmes’ missing years, that too in India. The idea itself got we salivating. This should have been a great book. And it does start well. We see the glimpse of typical Holmes in the way he handles situations/cases in India. Even the narrative style and tone is very similar to the original. But as the story moves to Tibet, it enters a very non-Holmesque territory. And then it goes from bad to worse to ridiculous. Most of the second half, Holmes is as clueless as rest of us. Its so bad that is does not seem like Holmes at all. Big disappointment!
Don’t get me wrong. Stand alone, it is a decent piece of fiction, but it certainly lacks the “Sherlock Holmes soul”. When you take Holmes and mix paranormal power, reincarnations, and other things which are neither logical or scientific, then you definitely going to rub Holmes and ACD fans the wrong way. ACD must be stirring uncomfortably in his grave because of this.
My advice: Avoid it if you are expecting Holmes. If you are interested in stand alone thrillers, its good, but there are better options too.
Note for Kindle Readers: The Kindle edition has occasional typos and misspelt words. Although entirely manageable (you will certainly be able to identify the words using the context), but irritating at times. Just a small review before publishing the e-book version should have saved us from this trouble.