The Tragedy of the Korosko – Arthur Conan Doyle

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?

21 Comments

Filed under Arthur Conan Doyle, Hesperus Press, Review

21 responses to “The Tragedy of the Korosko – Arthur Conan Doyle

  1. Oh, this sounds like an absolute blast! I am ashamed to say I’ve not read any Doyle, and I know I really need to remedy this. Soon, soon.

  2. Arthur Conan Doyle is on my TBR list. I was going to read a Sherlock Holmes first but now you’ve mentioned this book its straight to the top. I love abosolutely anything Egypt related since I was a child.

    • I would give this a go if you are a fan of all things Egypt for definite. I now covet my own copy as love the cover so much. Ha! Am looking forwards to opening a Sherlock Holmes in a few days though.

  3. Simon, I hate when Introductions are huge spoiler-zones too. Like you, whenever I am interested in reading more about the novel, I always wait until AFTER I’ve finished the book to do so!

    • Hahaha I was just talking to my Gran about thta on the phone only minutes ago and she too always reads the introduction agfter she has read the book. It saves on having everything given away, I dont understand why its done like that, pop it at the back!

  4. Sophie

    I always ALWAYS read the foreword afterwards. Learned that lesson the hard way as a teenager when a foreward ruined the ending of Anna Karenina for me.

    Simon, I really enjoyed an Elizabeth Gaskell book called Lois the Witch that Hesperus published.

    • I have to say I am an evil person when it comes to Karenina but accidentally evil. I was reading it with someone else and we were about half way through and I gave the end away by saying ‘isn’t it awful that…’ I didnt realise people she didnt know. Shame. But I did not do it in a book. I would love to write a foreward though… filled with red herrings and faslehoods hahaha.

      Louis The Witch… I have a feeling someone else has published that recently but just from the title it sounds right up my street. Thanks Sophie.

  5. ooh, I’ve never heard of this one and I do love Sherlock Holmes. Sounds like a fun adventure read!

  6. I’ve never heard of this one, either, but it sounds great! And while I have not read any of their books, I really LOVE the idea of Hesperus Press. I hope to feature them on the Spotlight Series soon 🙂

    • Hesperus are a great publisher, I want to know just when on earth their website is going to ba back to normal as I would love to be able to see the whole catalogue etc, etc. Definitley one to feature on any bookish blog!

  7. Eva

    That is SUCH a pretty cover! This book actually sounds really neat, and I’m not a big Doyle fan. Maybe this will change my mind!

    I never read the intro’s to a classic novel until after I’ve finished the novel itself, for exactly that reason. 🙂

    • Hoorah someone else who adores the cover as much as me!! This is quite different from some of Dyle’s other work so I would definately say give it a whirl.

      I thankfully leave the foreword/intro until after too, I just thought I would pop the idea for others to do it out there so they don’t get wonderful books like this ruined for them.

  8. LOVE that cover!

    The plot sounds a bit like Heart of Darkness, although I get the impression that this one is more of an adventure tale.

    • The cover is fabulous isn’t it. I wouldnt quite compare this to the Heart of Darkness but then its a book I don’t like at all and this is one that I do like hahaha. I would say that its just a great adventure story.

  9. Dot

    Great review Simon, think I may try and give some Conan Doyle a try this year!

  10. Kendra

    I have the same edition of this book and I remember reading that the book is based on actual events– although, obviously, it’s a novel. I found this website because I’m trying to verify if this is in fact true.

    As for Tony Robinson’s forward: I agree it has to stand as one of the worst forwards in history. But, I think it’s horrible because he practically apologizes for the politically incorrect story! Conan Doyle didn’t pull any punches when writing this and he writes of events that could have taken place today or 1400 years ago at the inception of Islam. For 1400 years, jihad has been going on and terror attacks have been going on and this is a story about one event that is very much like what is happening now.

    So, of course, when they reprinted this book, they had to apologize for reprinting a novel that mirrors current events because it might offend some adherents to Islam. His forward is pathetic and the idea that Hesperus included his forward is more than disappointing.

    This is my take on it.

    • I hadnt thought about that side of it, the PC side and its a complex and thought provoking one. I don’t know if its quite comparable to things of today but I could open a can of worms and so will veer away from any comment on that.

      I didnt know the book was based on actual events so thats insight for me. I think things like this happened but didnt know it was based on a specific case, so thanks for the enlightenment.

  11. I know what you mean. I also don’t like introductions or blurbs that give away too much of the story or sometimes even clues to the mystery. That just takes away part of the fun. That’s why like you, I also sometimes read introductions last. Sounds weird what do, doesn’t it? But it makes sense, hehe.

    And oh yeah, about the cover, it’s gorgeous 🙂 

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