Thursday, October 11, 2012

Not So Elementary

Seventy-five percent of the time, when I go to the bookstore, I am not looking for anything specific. I like to wonder around, perusing the shelves, hoping to find something new. And so it was, last week, when I entered the local Barnes & Nobles.

As B&N does not have a section just for horror, I start in the “Literature” section, where the horror novels dwell. Then I move on to “Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Finally, I check out the “Mystery” section, and it was here that something caught my eye.

There, on the “new book” shelf I saw a picture of a boar-headed soldier, astride a horse. Below this wonderfully bizarre image was the title: Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau. Finally, at the very bottom of the cover, the author's name: Guy Adams (The World House; Restoration).

This is not the book I will be reviewing today.

Looking over the book, I learned that it was the second Holmes adventure penned by Mr. Adams. I rushed, well, strolled, well, turned around, and right there, in the “A” section (shocking, I know) was Guy Adams first Holmes novel: Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God.

This is the book I am reviewing.

A body, killed by mysterious means. A dire warning, brought to Holmes by a semi-reputable source (more on that, in a moment). A second bizarre death. And with that, Holmes and Watson are drawn in to a horrifying mystery.

I'm trying to avoid giving anything away. Except...

The characters. Adams has drawn on some rich literary history, for his book. First, we have the semi-reputable, at least in Holmes' eyes, Dr. John Silence, Physician Extraordinary, created by Algernon Blackwood. Next, we meet Thomas Carnacki, The Ghost Finder, created by William Hope Hodgson. Followed by The Demonologist, Julian Karswell, created by M.R. James. Finally, we have Aleister Crowley, created by his parents, I guess, rounding out the cast.

While doing his utmost to stay true to the characters, Adams manages to add some depth to their personalities. While all are quite similar in occupation, the author makes each of them distinct. And Crowley is, well, Crowley.

Adams does a fine job, capturing the voice of Watson, the narrator (of course), without slavishly copying the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The plot moves at a brisk pace, with plenty of spooky scenes; perfect for reading on a dark and stormy night. He captures turn of the century London, at least the way that I have always envisioned it, quite well.

As for Sherlock, he is as brilliant, arrogant, and snarky as ever. As a life long fan of Holmes, I find no fault in Adams' portrayal of the “Consulting Detective.”

As Sherlock Holmes rides a new wave of popularity, due, in no small part, to the feature films starring Robert Downey Jr., and the BBC television show, I hope that fans, old and new, pick up Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God, and feel the thrills and chills that Guy Adams has wrought.

Oh, and I will be reading Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau very soon. So, stay tuned