Book and Movie Review Monday: The Last Werewolf and Sherlock Holmes–A Game of Shadows

Next Monday I will post more six sentence stories. For today I am going to offer my opinions about “The Last Werewolf” by Glen Duncan and the new Sherlock Holmes movie.

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

I recently read somewhere that writing a story or a novel means you have to continuously keep your reader engaged, but in a novel things are a little different. In novels the first page will get the reader to read the second if it is well written. If the reader reads the second page, then they will probably read the first five pages. If the reader reads those five pages, then they will read the next ten. With each successive number of pages the amount of “good-will-and-interest-in-the-book credit” grows and the reader will finish the book if it reasonably well written throughout.

The first four chapters of The Last Werewolf absolutely snap with crisp prose, are packed with ideas, and the plot shows promise of being innovative. The book’s premise is that the main point of view character is the last werewolf in existence. It begins to explore what it would mean to the world to have such a creature extinguished, but then shies off in my opinion. The book tentatively edges towards talking about real existential issues, and then devolves as I saw it.

Jake is a werewolf. He smokes, drinks, and has a great deal of sex. Part of this comes with the condition of being a werewolf. A secret agency that hunts supernatural monsters is tracking him after having killed the supposed only other werewolf in existence. No new werewolves seem to have been created in about 200 years so they have been picked off. The book could have done more to address Jake’s unique status and situation. As a hunted being he does run and at one point is about to give himself over, but rather than exploring what extinction might mean for a creature of fantasy and what that would mean to the world the book cops out. An honest examination of that theme would have been fearless and far more dangerous than the story that ensued. I don’t want to give any plot spoilers, but I will say that to my mind this had the potential to be a brilliant novel and then it went the way of playing safe and turned into an action thriller. Further the last few chapters had a point of view shift so they were told through the voice of a different character and I did not feel they were even well-written. This second point of view character sounded too much like Jake, she was supposed to be a modern day American but her part was told with British idioms, and the last few chapters felt like an add-on because the book needed to come to an end.

Would I recommend to someone else that they read The Last Werewolf? Yes, overall it is an engaging read. I think Glen Duncan has some significant storytelling ability and is an able wordsmith based on the first one third or so of the book. I don’t finish books that bore me or are too horribly written to bother with. For me this book just was somewhat of a let-down in the end because the beginning held so much promise. I think I had my hopes higher than I should have had them.

Sherlock Holmes– A Game of Shadows

I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie last Saturday evening. I very much liked the first Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. playing the enigmatic detective. The first movie had some incredible sequences where the director showed how Sherlock analyzed fight sequences and then followed them through to win fights. It was innovative and a beautiful “show” of how quickly the great detective could problem solve. The second movie also uses some of these sequences and it takes the ability further. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I thought the movie was brilliant in the way that it further showed Sherlock Holmes mental capabilities.

Where the first movie was complete with the end of the movie, this second movie featured Doctor Moriarty. Doctor Moriarty was Sherlock Holmes nemesis. Where Blackwood was certainly corrupt and plotting to take over the world, his ego overrode his plans. Blackwood as a villain was not subtle and in part this made him evident as the villain and his end was inevitable. Moriarty is cunning. He does not put himself to the forefront to dominate the world, he plots and takes over behind the scenes. He manipulates to achieve what he desires. The second movie is expansive and it feels like there are more adventures to come.

In my opinion, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law both did a fantastic job portraying the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Noomi Rapace, who was last seen in the Steig Larsson movies, demonstrated again that she has a mysterious depth that she brings to her roles. Would I recommend to someone to spend the money for the price of admission to Sherlock Holmes– A Game of Shadows? Yes. Matter of fact I would like to see it again.