Today I am over the moon to be part of the brilliant blog tour to celebrate a brilliant mystery!
The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Vanishing Dragon by Robert J Harris was released on the 22nd March 2018 published by Kelpies and is the second book in this super sleuth series!
So today I have the man himself Robert J Harris telling us all about the detective and his assistant in this fab guest post….
One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all — Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. Artie and his friend Ham are hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents that have befallen world-famous magician, the Great Wizard of the North. It seems someone is determined to sabotage his spectacular new illusion. When the huge mechanical dragon created for the show vanishes, the theft appears to be completely impossible. Artie must reveal the trick and unmask the villain or face the deadly consequences. The cards have been dealt, the spell has been cast, and the game is afoot once more!
Robert J. Harris, author of The World’s Gone Loki series and Will Shakespeare and the Pirate’s Fire, brings the young Conan Doyle to life in the second book of this ingenious new detective series.
Stalwart Companions: The Detective And His Assistant
It’s impossible to imagine Sherlock Holmes without the faithful Dr John H Watson at his side. Watson’s main function is to serve as the narrator of Holmes’ adventures. In this way we see Holmes through the eyes of a normal – but by no means dim – person who may lack Holmes’ eccentric brilliance but has other admirable qualities. He’s brave, honourable and – rather importantly – he’s actually a very good writer.
By employing Watson as narrator, Conan Doyle keeps us outside Holmes’ mind. If Holmes were telling the stories, we would be able to follow his thoughts at every stage, and this would ruin the effect of his astonishing deductions. If the story was told simply in the third person, then the author would be cheating by keeping the main character’s thoughts hidden from us.
The fact that we follow the story from Watson’s point of view means that we share his bafflement at the bizarre cases as well as his amazement when Holmes reveals his deductions and solves the seemingly impossible mysteries.
But Watson serves another function. His stolid personality acts as a compliment to Holmes’ quirky character, and their relationship adds hugely to the richness of the stories.
In order to retain the spirit of the original Holmes stories it was important that the hero of The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries should have a companion; and so his friend Edward “Ham” Hamilton was born. He acts as a counterpart to Artie. While Artie’s keen to plunge into mist-covered graveyards in search of adventure, Ham would much rather be at home eating cakes. When Artie’s imagination causes him to come up with wild theories, Ham injects a sensible note of skepticism.
Throughout The Gravediggers’ Club Ham is dragged unhappily along behind the energetic Artie until he finally digs his heels in and refuses to continue. It’s at this point, in one of my favourite scenes, that Artie explains why he needs his friend and cannot solve the case without him. After this Ham becomes a more active agent in the investigation and by the end of the book he arguably becomes the true hero of the story.
In The Vanishing Dragon Ham is now suggesting that perhaps in the future the pair of them might become professional investigators. Artie doesn’t seem to see this as a practical plan for the future. But when the magician John Henry Anderson hires the boys to investigate a mystery, it looks as if Ham’s idea might not be so fanciful after all. Ham even comes up with his own plan for solving the impossible theft that sits at the heart of the book.
Later in the novel Ham even has a crack at writing up their adventures as Watson will one day record the cases of Sherlock Holmes. It is comically clear, however, that he does not have Watson’s literary gifts.
As with Holmes and Watson, the relationship between Artie and Ham adds hugely to the richness of the stories and I’m looking forward to watching both characters evolve as the series continues.
You can buy a copy of The Vanishing Dragon here or from your local book shop!
About Robert J Harris
Robert J Harris was born in Dundee and now lives in St Andrews with his wife, sons, and his dog. He is the author of many children’s books, including Will Shakespeare and the Pirate’s Fire, and Leonardo and the Death Machine; and he is the creator of popular fantasy board game Talisman.
You can catch up on the rest of this fab blog tour at the following stops!
A huge huge thank you to Robert for such a superb guest post and to Sarah at Kelpies for asking me to host!
Have you read any of the Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries? What did you think? What was your favourite part? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of this review or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy!