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The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes : the…

The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes : the adventures of the great detective in… (1999)

by Jamyang Norbu

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The basic premise was essentially to document the hows and whys of Holmes visit to Tibet during the great hiatus. The intriguing bit is that the amusing Babu, Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, of Rudyard Kipling's classic work, Kim, narrates the story. As a fan of the Flashman books as well as being interested in the British presence in India, I found the book to be a vital addition to my collection. By making the narrator someone other than Watson, the author did himself a great favour. The biggest fault with most pastiches is the inability of the author to effectively mimic the voice of Watson. Thankfully Norbu doesn't try, and it has been far too long since I read Kim to take exception with the voice of Huree.

The story begins with Holmes arrival in India, as Sigerson of course. Huree is an agent of the Raj and is assigned to keep an eye on the unlikely foreigner. I rather liked that one of Holmes' first lines to Huree was "You have been in Afghanistan I perceive." That one familiar line would pretty much define the relationship between these two characters. Much of the next few chapters are spent in creating a bond between these two unlikely fellows and all handled rather effectively I thought. The characterization of Holmes is fairly good, even if he is prone to quoting a bit too much Horace. He is also somewhat distant, and is clearly exploring, to some degree, the meaning of life. Myself, I was expecting Holmes to become involved at Mycroft's request in the fascinating double-play of Kipling's Great Game, which surprisingly, he doesn't. Holmes is of course on the run from the minions of the late Professor Moriarty, which begs the question as to why he would venture into Moran's home ground, and is besieged on all fronts. After an encounter with a giant red leech and a group of dacoits or more correctly Thugs, we move onto the trip to Tibet. The intrigues and action are both excellent. Norbu knows his plot pacing.

The journey is not quite as evocative as I had hoped, as it goes rather quickly, which progresses the story admirably, but leaves me without the details of Indian life that I had hoped for. On arrival in Tibet, we find that Holmes has been expected and is requested to help defend the life of the youthful Dalai Lama to be. He turns the request down flat, but of course ends up doing the right thing. It is on the night of the attack that brings Holmes round that the story suddenly veers into left field. It was at this point that what I thought was going to be one of the better pastiches that I had ever read turned suddenly sour. While I expected a good deal of mysticism in this story, I certainly wasn't prepared for the revelations presented here. I found myself thinking of Robert Lee Hall's Exit Sherlock Holmes rather than Kipling's "Kim". Pretty much the last thing I was expecting actually. The revelation of the identity of the "Dark One" who was behind the whole thing left me cold, particularly as I was half expecting Fu Manchu to make an appearance. Well, he didn't, but I won't spoil the finish for any of those curious enough to tackle this book, but I will say that a good deal of paranormal activity takes place and that the motivation for Holmes trip to Tibet is a huge let down. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book, but can't give it the recommendation that I had hoped for. The writing style is exemplary for a pastiche, as is the representation of Holmes, but...in the end I was not satisfied. If you enjoy the X- Files and don't mind mixing Holmes with the paranormal, then you really will love this, but for me, it missed the mark.

Originally published by Harper Collins Publishers India, the book is now readily available in UK and US editions. ( )
  CharlesPrepolec | Dec 22, 2018 |
A modern Tibetan scholar (ad freedom activist) takes up the story hinted at in The Empty House that Sherlock Holmes spent some of his "missing years" in Tibet after his struggle with Moriarty The narrator is Hurree Chunder Mookerji, from Kipling's Kim, and Holmes is drawn into what Kipling named The Great Game. ( )
  antiquary | Oct 26, 2016 |
This was one of the better patische's Ive read. If you like Sherlock Holmes, then its a must-read! ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
Sherlock Holmes aficionados refer to the period from 1891 to 1894--the time between Holmes's disappearance and presumed death in The Adventure of the Final Problem (at the hands of Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls) and his reappearance in The Adventure of the Empty House--as "the Great Hiatus."

So, what really happened during these lost years?

Holmes tells Dr. Watson in laconic fashion: "I travelled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhasa and spending some days with the head Lama."

Two years is a long time. There must have been more to it than that, but without Dr. Watson as the faithful scribe, how could anyone know the truth?

Author Jamyang Norbu offers an explanation in The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes, a non-canonical Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel.

After surviving the incident at the Reichenbach Falls, Holmes travels east to escape Moriarty's henchmen. One wonders, if Holmes survived, what happened to Moriarty? His agents are still active, it seems. In India, Holmes meets a Bengali spy, Huree Chunder Mookherjee, assigned to accompany and protect Holmes during his mission to Tibet, for mission it was. Holmes has adopted the disguise of a Norwegian explorer called Sigerson so that he is able to protect the young 13th Dalai Lama from assassination by a Chinese-backed evil sorcerer, whose secret identity will come as no surprise when revealed. Holmes, ever pragmatic, finds himself at the mercy of mystical elements that almost (but not quite) overpower him as his expedition leads him into the fabled Shambala and events beyond common understanding. Mookherjee admirably takes on the role of narrator, with a quaint turn of phrase and shocked exclamations as things become considerably more dangerous with every passing day. A helpful glossary at the back of the book assists readers with unfamiliar words and phrases.

The author draws heavily on books and descriptions of the era, notably Kipling's Kim and Charles Allen's Plain Tales from the Raj. I loved this book, although the plot veers into a kind of mysticism, which Conan Doyle is more famous for, than his creation. However, the Great Game is wonderfully evident. Holmesian aficionados will not be disappointed although some Baker Street purists might disapprove. The author has perfectly captured Holmes' dry wit and abrasive, often mercurial personality. Added to this is Holmes' particular manner of speech and deduction.

There are several extremely amusing references in this helter-skelter tale of darkness and derring-do. Note: readers who wondered about the Giant Red Leech, hinted at by Watson, will have their questions answered here. I thought the book admirably echoed the tradition of Watson and Holmes' many adventures.

A sad, one could say tragic element of the story is the author's concern with China's occupation of Tibet. He weaves in a pertinent political message, but in a subtle way that never interferes with the story. ( )
  FionaRobynIngram | Aug 15, 2012 |
Although I am not a fan of mystery novels, like most people I've read several Shelock Holmes stories over the years. I found them generally entertaining but would not call myself a person who would look forward to reading another Sherlock Holmes story.
This one, received as a gift, intrigued me because of the mysteriousness of the title and the setting. The story starts in the great city of Bombay (now called Mumbai) with Hurree Chunder Mookerjee assigned the task of picking up a Norwegian visitor arriving on a ship. The story follows Hurree and the Norwegian, who turns out to be none other than Sherlock himself, in many encounters with criminal elements that are working for Sherlock's nemesis, Moriarty
Both of them follow clues that leads them to Simla, in Northern India and then to Tibet where they meet with the Grand Lama. They help save the Lama and defeat and kill Moriarty through a series of events, some of them rather fantastical.
The story is well written and the author, a Tibetan political activist living in Dharamsala, successfully carries on the Conan Doyle's writing style and portrays Holme's character and personality very well.
It's an enjoyable read that brings to light some of the aspects of Tibet's historical struggles against China and the latter's continuous attempts to integrate Tibet into China- which was successfully done in 1950 under the current Communist regime. ( )
  xieouyang | Jul 9, 2011 |
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I travelled for two years in tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhassa and spending some days with the head Lama. You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend.

Sherlock Holmes
The Empty House
Is not all life pathetic and futile? ...We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A Shadow. Or worse than a shadow -- misery.

Sherlock Holmes
The Retired Colourman
The Mandala (Tib: dkyil-'khor) is a sacred circle surrounded by light rays or the place purified of all transitory or dualist ideas. It is experienced as the infinitely wide and pure sphere of consciousness in which deities spontaneously manifest themselves ... Mandalas have to be seen as inward pictures of a whole (integral) world; they are creative primal symbols of cosmic evolution and involution, emerging and passing in accordance with the same laws. From this perspective, it is but a short step to conceiving of the Mandala as a creative principle in relation to the external world, the macrocosmos -- thus making it the centre of all existence.

Detlef Ingo Lauf
Tibetan Sacred Art
From time to time, God causes men to be born - and thou art one of them - who have a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news - today it may be of far-off things, tomorrow of some hidden mountain, and the next day of some nearby men who have done a foolishness against the state. These souls are very few; and of these few, not more than ten are of the best. Among these ten I count the Babu.

Rudyard Kipling
When everyone is dead the Great Game is finished. Not before. Listen to me until the end.

Rudyard Kipling
First words
The post-monsoon sky over the Arabian sea is hazeless and clear blue as a piece of Persian turquoise.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Sherlock Holmes-- the missing years : the adventures of the great detective in India and Tibet : a novel

by Bloomsbury, New York.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 158234132X, Hardcover)

A new Sherlock Holmes mystery worthy of the master Sir Conan Doyle himself.
In 1891, a horrified public learned that Sherlock Holmes-in a last deadly struggle with the archcriminal Professor Moriarty-had perished at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Two years later, popular demand made Sir Conan Doyle resurrect the great detective. Holmes informed a stunned Dr. Watson, "I traveled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Llasa."

Nothing has been known of those missing years until Jamyang Norbu's discovery of the Mandala, a carefully wrapped package in a rusting tin box. When opened, the package reveals a Bengali scholar's own account of his travels with Holmes. The Mandala holds the key to a mystery and tells the story of Holmes in a landscape so fascinating, a game so intriguing, that it is impossible to resist. An exciting, often richly humorous detective story, Sherlock Holmes: The Missing Years also evokes the romance of Kipling's India. Jamyang Norbu has written a mystical, playful, and witty page-turner.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In 1891, the public was horrified to learn that Sherlock Holmes had perished in a deadly struggle with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Then, to their amazement, he reappeared two years later, having travelled for two years in Tibet. The "lost years" are revealed through the scroll of Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, a Bengali scholar, who travelled with the great detective and chronicled his brush with the Great Game, with Colonal Creighton, Lurgan Sahib and the world of Kim.… (more)

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