The only reason I rated this two stars instead of one is that the author had the courtesy to kill off the obnoxious main character in the end.
Set in 1920s London, Photographing Fairies opens with photographer Charles Castle, locked in a jail cell on the night before his execution. He starts telling his story, which involves fairies, a murder, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Should have been a winner, but it really fell short due to a crappy writer and, like I said, a main character I wanted to whack over the head.
Basically, Castle is approached by a constable named Walsmear who has photographs taken by two little girls of fairies. After examining them closely, Castle believes them to be real. He approaches Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the photographs, knowing of the author’s love of the mystical. Doyle is convinced that he himself has real photos of fairies (which really happened–poor guy), and wants to purchase and destroy Walsmear’s as competition. Castle thinks Doyle’s photos are crap (they really were) and convinces Walsmear to introduce him to the girls. His basic plan is to take more photos, sell them and get rich. Walsmear feels bad for the girls (since, oops, he killed their mom), so he agrees because he wants to help them earn some money.
Castle goes to their little village, bangs the reverend’s wife (oops) and all sorts of other terrible things. He’s whiny, nazel-gazing and has too much testosterone. Walsmear I actually kind of liked, until the mommy-murdering was revealed, along with some other unsavory character traits.
The writing style is meant to imitate Doyle’s, but it falls short. I was expecting some big Sherlock Holmes ending: a practical explanation for the mystical. Szilagyi kind of gets there, but you can see the ending a mile away, making it rather disappointing. Don’t bother.