Bartley and James is a steampunk detective story, similar to the classic Sherlock Holmes books, the difference is the steampunk and the characters are under no circumstance like the classic Sherlock, in fact they completely unique as the stories go on. Although it is a detective story, all the stories are short stories and can be considered solo stories, nothing really likes them to the other stories, if anything they just build up the characters, which is always a good thing since the first couple of stories the character’s come across as rather bland and in need of more background.
The beginning of this book started off a bit odd, it really did feel like I was reading a Sherlock Holmes book that was dipped into a steampunk world. The first story or two just felt too similar to Sherlock that I did get the feeling that I should give up – since I wasn’t that big a Sherlock fan.
However I stuck with it and I did enjoy it, I liked James, the character is very into science, he is an atheist and has no time for any excess emotions, he doesn’t seem to understand them, he likes things to be clear – he could be viewed as the Sherlock in the duo, if it wasn’t for the fact that he is a man of science, not only science though, but he doesn’t interact with people, it’s not his area and he gets not real enjoyment out of it. Bartleby is a man who has a lot of money, he is rich – well off and comfortably so – he is a social man who goes around and talks to anyone, he also interested in the human mind, he likes to get into people’s heads, to make them think and get himself to think more than continually go around the social circle.
In the first short story we learn about Bartleby, a man who was trained by the Great Detective himself, Sherlock Holmes – although in the book he is simply called the Great Detective and Sherlock, most likely to avoid paying royalties. Which is fair enough, the name is only mentioned a handful of times and only serves to show how similar Bartleby is to the man.
We learn many things about the duo, although most of it is their investigations, I wish we could learn more about their private lives, particularly at the end of the book, Bartleby has a fiancée and James has an adoptive daughter, the former was only mentioned at the end of the book and the later came about in the middle of the book. But we know very little about these character, all I know is that from reading this book I enjoy James, I find him an interesting character and I want to know more about him; at the same time I would also wish to know more about Bartleby, how he came across his fiancée, why is he engaged since he doesn’t seem the type to be engaged. So many questions that I am hoping the next book will answer.