Monday, May 29, 2006

DUST JACKETS: The List of Seven

Perhaps one of the weirdest and most interesting takes on the legendary Sherlock Holmes came from a co-creator of “Twin Peaks.” In the early nineties, Mark Frost’s first book The List of Seven was published, and the subject matter was too good for me to pass up.

The main character is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the physician and writer who created Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson. Set in 1884 London, Doyle’s writing career has not taken off and his most noteworthy exploits are as a demystifier of the occult. With that in mind, Doyle finds himself invited to a séance to make sure a beautiful and mysterious young woman is not being hoodwinked. The séance turns into a murder, and as Doyle flees for safety, he falls into the company of the heroic Jack Sparks. Sparks claims to be a secret agent serving the British Crown. Together, Sparks and Doyle uncover an occult group of conspirators with plans for world domination, and their only lead to the dark brotherhood is a list of seven names. Doyle doesn’t quite trust Sparks, though, and the longer he stays with the supposed spy, the more he questions whether the man is all he claims.

The book didn’t seem to make the splash Frost and his publisher had hoped. There’s little doubt, they were hoping to cash in on the “Twin Peaks” crowd. According to one source I found in my online refresher course for this book, Universal Studios had planned to release a film based on the book back in the summer of 1994, but obviously, that never materialized.

I recall enjoying this book a lot. The mix of mystery and the supernatural made it a real pleaser for me in my college years. I’d enjoyed “Twin Peaks” quite a bit, even though I came in on that series late in its last season. Was it a well-written book? I’m not so sure of that. It’s been too long for me to remember much of that, but as mystery thrillers go, I was satisfied at the time. I even liked the book enough to buy its sequel The Six Messiahs. The sequel is why I question whether The List of Seven was well written. I tried to read The Six Messiahs and could never get into it. That probably had something to do with the story being set in the “Old West,” since I’ve never much cared for westerns. It’s noteworthy that a third book was never published in this series, and I think even for my part, I didn’t see much point in the characters going beyond the first book. Some stories really don’t need a sequel.

Other Books by Mark Frost:

What’s most surprising about Frost is that he has found success as a writer… but not within the strange genre that put his name on the map on television. Within the past few years, he’s published a pair of books on golf. One of these, The Greatest Game Ever Played, was recently made into a film directed by Bill Paxton. He hasn’t totally abandoned fantasy and science fiction, though. He also helped script last summer’s film adaptation of the comic book “The Fantastic Four.” Whatever you might think about Mark Frost and his work, he’s certainly proven himself a writer who refuses to be pigeonholed.

1 comment:

H.E.Eigler said...

I loved Twin Peaks!! Remember the log lady? Man, she used to crack me up!! Might have to check out some of those other books you've mentioned....thanks Bill :)