I felt that before I embarked on a big binge read of Sherlock Holmes over the coming months, as I previously mentioned, I would read another Arthur Conan Doyle and when I saw the cover of the Hesperus edition of ‘The Tragedy of the Korosko’ in the library I simply couldn’t not take it off the shelf to be devoured in the comfort of my own home. Would this once again be a book that I simply didn’t want to take back or one I couldn’t wait to exchange?
The Tragedy of the Korosko is a novella by Arthur Conan Doyle that I had no prior knowledge of until I opened the first page. It is the tale of a group of English, French and American tourists who set out on an excursion down the Nile by steamer in the late Victorian era. A trip that starts of as a sightseeing excursion of a group unknown to each other before embarking the Korosko find they have to come together in order to survive when an excursion leads to their kidnap by a group of dervish camel men.
This book took me right back to my early teens, not because I lived in the desert, and to the thrill of opening a book and going on a real adventure somewhere you have never been before. This is just one of those books and Conan Doyle doesn’t hold back from killing people off as the adventure goes on. There are thrills galore as things get bleaker and bleaker for the characters. The characters are in part what make the book so wonderful. They start out a certain way Colonel Cochrane Cochrane is austere and stand offish, Miss Sadie Adams an innocent thing prone to giggles or tears and her Aunt one of those do-gooder types who come with a bit of prejudice.
There are many more characters involved and as the story goes on they change and Conan Doyle looks at them, their true characters and beliefs and asks the reader not to judge people as you would first think to. He also manages to throw in some humour occasionally where you would not necessarily think that any could be found. All of this in just 117 pages, you do wonder just how his mind worked. However it was he came up with tales like this I am grateful to him as I had a wonderful adventure for an afternoon when I was actually filled with horrible lurgy. If a thriller can be at once be comforting, adventure filled and have you on the edge of your sick bed seat then it has to be a good’en doesn’t it?
I will say though, and if any publishers are reading this please here my plea, I don’t know why introductions/forewords are allowed in books that give away the ending. The same applies to plots. It’s fortunate I read a foreword afterwards as in this case Tony Robinson, who I am normally a fan of, would have left me in no need to read the rest of the book. This is a small issue for me as I said I read the introductions last, for many though it would slightly tarnish the book. Having said that Hesperus excel when it comes to covers and this book is no exception. I am quite annoyed that it has to go back to the library on Saturday. In the case of The Tragedy of the Korosko you definitely should judge a book buy its cover (though maybe not by the foreword).
Which Hesperus books have you read that you would recommend I look up? What none Sherlock Holmes based Conan Doyle is out there that I am missing out on?