Tag Archives: sherlock holmes

James Lovegrove – Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Monstrosities

It’s a little under a year since I read the first in the Cthulhu Casebooks trilogy, Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows, and here we are with the follow-up. Editor James Lovegrove provides a useful introduction to Watson’s manuscript, and answers some of the questions that have arisen since the publication of the first book. Apparently, some people have suggested that Lovegrove actually wrote the book himself and just made up the story of how the typescripts came into his possession.   He denies this, of course, and points out that this second volume is so much in the style of two of Watson’s original novels[1], and including as it does a manuscript from a second writer, that such a feat of imitation would be far beyond his skills. Well, I’m convinced, anyway…

Anyway, Holmes and Watson are involved in more danger involving deeply unpleasant nasties including a Nightgaunt, and the usual levels of misdirection and mystery. While trapped and anticipating a fate including a very unpleasant death, they’re able to read a manuscript very much in the manner of the noted historian HP Lovecraft, involving a trip along the Miskatonic River that leads to Very Bad Things, and explains much that has been happening in London.

And finally, all is revealed, and the real cause behind all the horrors is made clear. So nice to meet old fiends, err friends…

It’s an absorbing tale, but is it true? Is it an elaborate hoax on the part of Lovegrove or some unknown party? Was Watson losing his marbles late in life?  Did HP Lovecraft make it all up and fake it as a Watson narrative? We may never know. But perhaps the forthcoming third volume will provide more clues.

[1] For such we must describe them if these newly revealed stories are to be believed, not the authentic accounts that we’ve always assumed them to be.

G S Denning – Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles

Readers with functional memories might recall me mentioning the first book in this series, A Study in Brimstone, late last year, and won’t be surprised that I grabbed this sequel as soon as it appeared.

We join Watson some time after the dramatic events at the close of the last book – as Warlock Holmes had been possessed by Moriarty, Watson did the sensible thing and shot him very dead. Which might have made for a short book, but a little matter of being dead isn’t going to stop Holmes[1], and before long he’s resurrected and gradually re-composing[2] and ready for more cases.

And the cases, as in the first book, are gloriously silly riffs on some of Conan Doyle’s stories. There’s The Adventure of the Blackened Beryls, in which the coronet is a little bit more than a nice shiny thing, Silver Blaze: Murder Horse, which should put you off racing for life and The Reigateway to Another World, where things start to get very silly.

These are all topped by the definitively ridiculous Adventure of the Solitary Tricylcist, which is even sillier than the title might suggest.

But all those pale in comparison to the main body of the book, in which we enjoy a much more believable version of the Devon Dog, learn a great deal more about Warlock Holmes himself[3], and generally have a lot of fun.

Good stuff, recommended to Sherlock Holmes fans, and to anyone who likes laughs with their soul-eating horror.

And there’s another one coming next year!

[1] Worked for the original….
[2] Rather like decomposing backwards
[3] He’s still an idiot, of course

Weight and Stuff Report – 11 March 2017

Down again today.

This is a slightly mucked about with[1] view of the statue of Sherlock Holmes in Edinburgh



Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/350s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 57.4127′ 0″ N 3° 11.2073′ 0″ W

[1] Technical expression

G S Denning – Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone

It’s a funny thing – you wait ages for a paranormal take on Sherlock Holmes, then two come along at once, or something like that. Anyway, this was another Amazon recommendation thingy, and it was a successful one in that (a) I was persuaded to buy it and (b) I enjoyed it.

As with the recent Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows, this starts with a retelling of the meeting between Holmes and Watson. Only this time, there are even more differences, not least that we’re now dealing with Warlock Holmes, who is, as his name suggests, not quite the rational detective we’re used to. The other little matter is, that despite having dark and mysterious powers, being occupied by various spirits (including Moriarty, who occasionally speaks through him), he is, not to put too fine a point on it, an idiot. By contrast, Watson soon shows a brilliant talent for deductive reasoning, taking us into two variant forms of Holmes stories at once.

The book consists of retellings (more or less, give or take) of A Study in Scarlet and several of the short stories. We encounter the usual Scotland Yard detectives: Lestrade, who in this version is a vampire, and Groggson (not to be confused with Greggson, of course), who’s an ogre. All perfectly normal, really…

There’s a lot of fun to be had, for instance when a character I won’t name to avoid spoilers, predicts his own death due to his

cardio-cranial narrative-sensitive exploditis

I think you can work that one out, and a lovely take on an old favourite

‘Tell him nothing, Watson!’ Warlock urged, struggling to reclaim his balance. ‘And for God’s sake, John, don’t let him learn your name!’

I did mention the idiot bit, didn’t I?

It ends on a suitably dramatic cliffhanger, setting things up for the sequel, due in 2017.

Good fun for fans of Sherlock Holmes who don’t take him too seriously. I think it would also appeal to readers of Wilkie Martin’s Inspector Hobbes books. Well, it did to me, and I’m both of those things.

Kim Newman – Angels of Music

Woo hoo! More fun from the ubiquitous Kim Newman, once again playing his familiar game of “spot the reference”. Having had great fun with the Anno Dracula series, he’s turned his vast intellect to another literary figure: the Phantom of the Opera.

Erik, as the Phantom is named, isn’t bent on world domination, death and destruction or anything like that. No, he’s running a detective agency. At any given time, he has three female agents, coordinated by his assistant, while he stays in the shadows, communicating by speaking tube, and if your brain isn’t squeaking “Charlie’s Angels”, it’s probably of the wrong age. Erik calls his agents Angels of Music, which pretty makes that explicit.

The book is made of a number of stories, at least some of which have been previously published, spread over a wide range of time, with different teams of Angels in each one. The Angels include Irene Adler, a name familiar to Sherlock Holmes readers, Sophy Kratides who Sherlock Holmes readers should also recall[1] and one Elizabeth Eynsford Hill, who you might recall under her maiden name of Eliza Doolittle.[2] And others.

Adversaries include Charles Foster Kane, who not content with trying to stir up a European war, is selling rather nasty food from his, err, Burgher Kane stalls.

I’ll just mention some of the gags and references I spotted[3]:

She expects the pleasure of the company of Rhandi Lal, the Khasi of Kalabar, and his daughter, the Princess Jelhi.

I’ll, err, Carry On with the next one if you didn’t like that.

The clowns were performing some interminable rhapsody from Bohemia

No? Oh well, easy come, easy go…

Just in case anyone didn’t remember Irene Adler

‘Prague is in Bohemia’, said Irene. ‘Not my favourite vacation spot.’

Well, no. And one more…

‘We aren’t the Angels you seek,’ said Unorna, low and even. There was a pause. Kate fancied she heard a humming sound. Unorna made a small, precise gesture which drew the eye in. ‘These aren’t the Angels we seek,’ said Max, waving them on.

Oh dearie me….

Yes, it’s all enormous fun. If you enjoyed the Anno Dracula books, you should enjoy this too.

[1] OK, from The Greek Interpreter. We learn here what happened to her after Holmes’s not particularly helpful intervention
[2] Pygmalion? Oh, all right, My Fair Lady
[3] There are probably many more

James Lovegrove – Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

This popped up as a recommendation on Amazon, and it looked interesting enough to order for my Kindle.

It’s the first in a planned trilogy of slightly[1] different Sherlock Holmes stories billed as The Cthulhu Casebooks, which should give you a bit of a hint as to what it’s about. It starts with the more or less traditional bit of the author getting hold of what appear to be original manuscripts (or in this case typescripts) of previously unknown works by John H Watson (insert standard note about Conan Doyle being the editor, etc etc[2]). But these documents are a wee bit different. Apparently written by a  much older Watson, they reveal for the first time the truth about how Watson was injured in Afghanistan, how he and Holmes really met, and much much more. Lovegrove expresses the traditional doubts about the authenticity of the documents – are they really the work of Watson, or could they be a modern hoax carefully created using paper of the appropriate age? The problem for the reader is that Lovegrove admits to have made minor edits to the text – mostly to clear up Watson’s notorious issues with getting dates wrong, but can we be sure he hasn’t made other alterations? I certainly spotted what seem to be a few anachronisms – a reference to “liberal reformers” in connection with prisons, an expression that doesn’t sounds particularly 1880s, or even 1920s (when Watson allegedly typed the documents) to me. And referring to the Metropolitan Police as “the Met” doesn’t sound at all right. Signs of confused editing or of a more modern origin of the documents? Hmmmm

Anyway, if we accept this document at face value, it demolishes much of what we know, or thought we knew about Holmes. While he did indeed intend to set up as a the world’s first consulting detective, this was swept aside when he and Watson found themselves becoming involved in a very dark mystery, which leads them to researching some very disturbing documents held in the really secret bit of the British Museum Library. Readers familiar with the secrets revealed by Lovegrove’s distant relation H P Lovecraft will find this disturbingly familiar.

As their investigation into some mysterious (and nasty) deaths leads them closer to the horrible truth about what’s going on, things get personal when Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and Inspector Gregson are captured by minions of yes, you guessed it, Professor Moriarty, who we learn to be something much worse than the Napoleon of Crime of the previously published stories, with a Very Sinister Plan.

Minor quibbles about editorial anachronisms aside[3], this is a fascinating beginning to a series of revelations about one of the best-known figures of the late 19th century.

Or, to put it another way: great fun – if you like a good bit of Sherlock Holmes, it’s worth a read. If you like a bit of H P Lovecraft, it’s also worth a look. And if you like both, you really should give it a try. I’m looking forward to the next one already.

[1] Possible understatement
[2] I should probably point out that I’m playing along with the Sherlockian game for the purposes of this post
[3] And perhaps I’m mistaken about those

Robert Rankin – East of Ealing

And here we are with the third book in the legendary[1] Brentford Trilogy, as my great Robert Rankin Re-read-athon creaks along. First published in 1984, this involves yet more apocalyptic goings-on in the famous[2] London borough. Readers who survived the experience of The Brentford Triangle may be either relieved or confused to find that there are no signs of the devastation and destruction[3] that occurred in that book. Well, confusion s part of the Rankin package, so you’ll just have to get used to it. Has some cosmic reset button been pressed, or is it, as Douglas Adams might have said, just life[4]? It’s probably best not to think about such matters and just get on with the story. Oh, and you’d better get used to pun-loaded titles. There will be more…

Everything appears to be being taken over by a company calling itself Latienos & Romiith. They appear to be behind the scheme to abolish actual cash and label everyone with barcodes, which as is correctly pointed out, have eighteen bars split into three groups of six. Six Six Six, even. And yes, these marks are indeed placed on either the right hand or the forehead, which comes as a Revelation[5] to our heroes Pooley and Omally, especially after Pooley manages to win an almost incalculable fortune from his six-horse accumulator bet, and when he’s taken the huge amount of money to the bank, finds the only way he can get at it is via his new barcode.

Now that might be bad enough, but there’s also the little matter of the enormous Latienos and Romiith building springing up in Brentford. And the forcefield thingy separating the borough from the outside world. And people being replaced by evil robotic replicas. And, as they say, much more, not least Sherlock Holmes, who’s prematurely, if usefully, revived from suspended animation.

Much madness follows, with the inventive Norman coming up with his own replica and a time machine of the H G Wells variety, which might come in handy…

The whole thing is utterly bonkers, as you might expect. And if the ending has you saying “eh? what? how? when? whither? whence?”, you won’t be alone.

According to I, Robert, after this book, both he and his editor were shown the door by the then publisher on grounds of low sales. Shocking.

[1] Must be, it says so on the cover
[2] It’s got all these books written about it!
[3] Decimation optional
[4] Don’t talk to me about life, etc
[5] Sorry[6], had to be done
[6] Not.

Sherlock – The Abominable Bride

It had, of course, been far too long since the last time we saw Sherlock – getting on for two years, in fact, so to describe last night’s one-off special as “long awaited” is a wee bit of an understatement, which is the kind of thing I tend to do around here, so that’s what I’ll be doing. Oh, and as talking about the story in anything more than the vaguest way will potentially cause distress for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet[1], I should probably include this old thing before I go on:

It’s likely that the random mutterings that follow will reveal some things you might prefer not to know if you haven’t seen the episode yet, so in my usual way, I’ll include this warning:

Here be spoilers!

Continue reading

Sherlock Special – a clip!

We’ve known for a while that there’s going to be a one-off special episode of Sherlock, before another series is made. We’ve also known that it’s being set in the original Sherlock Holmes time period. What we haven’t known is exactly what’s going on with that. Well, we now have a hint in the form of a short clip, which suggests levels of self-reference and metawossnameness that will make heads spin. Looks like fun, anyway:

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 May 2013

After all that walking in Edinburgh yesterday, I had enough odd little aches to decide that it might be a good idea to have a quiet day in, which is what I did.

This is a photograph of the statue of Sherlock Holmes, which can be found near the birthplace of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I found it after reading the sign on the nearby Conan Doyle pub. I’m not sure Conan Doyle would have approved, really. He always wanted to be remembered for his more serious historical novels that are pretty much forgotten these days…

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/350s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 57.4117′ 0″ N 3° 11.2042′ 0″ W