Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Crack in the Lens / Darlene A. Cypser

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


A member of the bar in New York and Colorado, Darlene Cypser practiced law until 1999. She currently splits her time between writing books and producing movies. Cypser is currently producing a movie, based on the Alfred Noyes’ poem The Highwayman, from a screenplay she wrote. An avid fan of Sherlock Holmes, Cypser has two short stories based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective, as is this novel. In 1988, Cypser wrote a tax guide for writers based on experiences with her legal clients. She has since used that foundation to publish several other tax guides, targeting the unique tax issues found in several professions. For more, visit the website for the series.


This is the first of a series of novels based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective, Sherlock Holmes, chronicling Holmes’ early life. In this first installment, we’ll see Holmes experience first love and find out about his initial conflict with Professor Moriarty.


Details of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes’ early life are sketchy in the novels and short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Filling in this gap with stories of what Holmes’ early life might have been has turned into a small cottage industry, with books and even a movie, Barry Levinson’s 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes. I hesitate to call this fan fiction because, unrestrained by copyright law (the Holmes stories are now in the public domain), authors of these works aren’t limited to passing the stories amongst each other. Those with skill and ambition can aim for a much larger audience. With The Crack in the Lens, we have the first of a series telling the story of Sherlock’s early life as envisioned by one Holmes fan.

It has been forever since I’ve read any of Conan Doyle’s books, but the character of Holmes is ingrained in my memory (as I think it is in many readers, at least of my generation and earlier). Spotting the glimmerings of what Holmes would become in Cypser’s take on his early years was easy, although I expect more avid fans would notice even more. In this installment, Holmes falls in love for the first time and first crosses swords with Professor Moriarty. He learns a lot about human nature and how people present different aspects of themselves to different people. The last is also at the root of a mystery that Holmes attempts to unravel as he uses the just-forming logical deduction skills that will be his stock-in-trade as he grows older.

Although this book has some issues with typos and proofing (roughly one error per the equivalent of ten printed pages), I found it entertaining in spite of this. A must read for the diehard Holmes fan or anyone interested in one take on Holmes’ beginnings.


Although I spotted one instance of UK spelling, I believe this was an anomaly. Some of the dialogue uses archaic language that is appropriate for the time and place in which the story is set. I had no problem understanding from context and occasional references to the Kindle dictionary.

Format/Typo Issues:

A large number of typos and other proofing issues. The most common problems I saw were missing words (“I do not why” rather than “I do not know why”), extra words (“said the squire said …”), and the wrong form of a word (“So Sherlock did all that Moriarty ask of him” rather than “asked”).

Rating: *** Three stars

No comments: