[PDF] Holmes of the Raj By Vithal Rajan – Writerscompany.co.uk

Holmes of the Raj An Orientalist Piece Of Fiction, Written Tongue In Cheek, About The Raj At The Height Of Its Power In The Late 19th Century, With Holmes And Watson Appropriating Themselves Leadership In Several Fields, Whether It Is Politics, Religion, Medicine, Or Even Cricket Or Mathematics The Great Detective And The Intrepid Doctor Meet Not Only Captains Of Empire Such As Lord Ripon, Viceroy Lansdowne, Captain Younghusband And Dr Ronald Ross And Modem Indian Leaders Such As Motilal Nehru And Mohammed Ali Jinnah But Also Kipling S Characters, Kim And Mowgli, Embedded In Everybody S Collective Literary Memory In Passing, They Expose The True Identity Of Jack The Ripper, Send Professor Moriarty To An Ashram, And Foil General Dyer S Attempt On Annie Besant S Life. The writer of pastiche who takes Sherlock Holmes from the comfortably familiar environs of London and plunks him down in a far off place is something of a brave, if perhaps naive, fellow As tempting as it must be to break with formula and inject some superficial novelty into the proceedings, the unwary writer risks losing the comfortably familiar situations and atmosphere that are so very much crucial elements to the enduring success of the Canon Unfortunately, losing the charm and atmosphere of London is but one of the problems with Vithal Rajan s collection of short interconnected stories that make up HOLMES OF THE RAJ.In The Case of the Murdering Saint, Holmes and Watson are invited to India by an agent of the Ranee of Kanchee to prove that a holy man is not the self confessed murderer he would appear It is a flimsy reason for Holmes to travel such a distance, but it is strengthened by a request from Mycroft Holmes on behalf of the Home Office, since political upheaval, based on religious instability, may result from the Shankaracharya s conviction Once there, Holmes and Watson find themselves on an extended trip and embroiled in a number of other odd cases and investigations.In The Bite Worse Than Death we find Watson discovering how malaria is carried and Holmes solving the Ripper case, in The Naga Baiga of Moogli Hills we encounter what is obviously supposed to be the inspiration for Kipling s THE JUNGLE BOOK, next up is another Kipling inspired piece, Kim and Kim Again which also features a character with the unlikely name of Clark Gable I need hardly say that things are not quite as they would seem In Art, Crime and Enlightenment Holmes brushes up on his art appreciation and has, before heading back to England, an unlikely encounter with none other than that staple of pastichery, Professor Moriarty The final story The Indian Summer of Sherlock Holmes is set 25 years later and has our heroes recalled to India to help maintain stability, and are aided in their endeavors by a fellow named Ganga Din, on the eve of the First World War.While the stories are certainly quite readable, and very rich in authentic Indian colour, character and political concerns, Rajan doesn t come close to achieving the Watsonian voice one hopes for in good pastiche, largely due to a distinct lack of any sort of dialogue There are little to no instances of Holmesian revelatory detecting and to make matters worse, Rajan gives no sense of time lapse and litters the stories with a seemingly endless string of real life, and literary, public figures including the likes of Shaw s Colonel Pickering, the aforementioned Kipling and some of his characters, Helena Blavatsky, Annie Besant, the Duke of Clarence and even a young Mohammad Ali Jinnah Instead of solid pastiche, the reader will find himself faced with what amounts to little than a vaguely engaging Indian travelogue narrated by Watson Bottom Line A relatively weak effort at pastiche that is likely to be of interest to Sherlockian collectors rather than readers, since it isn t everyday that a Sherlock Holmes pastiche is published in India Similar to the other Holmes fan fiction I read earlier, The Curious case of 221B this book is also set up on the premise of the author receiving hitherto forgotten papers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.The setting is late 19th century India, a crucial arena where The Great Game was being played out Holmes and Watson get involved in 5 cases set in various parts of India Madras, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bombay, Nainital to name a few, and then return 25 years later for a swansong adventure What is interesting about the book is the way the author weaves in historical characters and events, and shows a different perspective to discoveries and personalities associated with them Ronald Ross, Ramanujan, to name a couple And it s not just science, but literature Kipling, his character Kim and another that would serve an inspiration for Mowgli Rabindranath Tagore and sports Dhyan Chand The same trend continues for political events too, with Motilal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, Lord Ripon all featuring in various storylines What didn t work for me was the narration and mystery moving away from the original Holmes adventures Very often, the focus is on how Holmes and Watson had played crucial parts in actual historical events, and many a time, these seem a laboured fit The book concentrates on the cultural and political aspects of the colonial rule with the Notes section providing enough evidence that the author has done a lot of homework and tries to draw our attention to the kind of thinking and behaviour that laid the framework for everything that has happened since Unfortunately, that means that Holmes and Watson are relegated to being props in a larger canvas So, it would be good to set your expectations clearly before you start out This is a commentary, and a very interesting one, on the socio cultural ethos of the Raj Regard Holmes and Watson as just another couple of characters, and you ll do just fine. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson travel to India on The Government s insistence and the novel follows their exploits in the country during the British Raj Although, the stories lack the intrigue and level of intelligence and ingenuity we have come to expect of Sherlock Holmes stores, it nonetheless is an enjoyable reading Particularly fun to read are the cameos of notable historical figures real and fictitious of the time including Kipling, Motilal Nehru, Swami Vivekananda, Tagore, Jinnah and Dhynad Chand

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