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Book Review

Book Cover

Sherlock Holmes
The Stuff of Nightmares


Author: James Lovegrove
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $14.95, Cdn $17.95
ISBN: 978 1 78116 541 6
Publication Date: 30 August 2013

A series of bombings rock London and the establishment need answers. Sherlock Holmes's brother turns to him in his hour of need, but Holmes has his mind on other things. A new legend has grown up amongst the criminal classes of a mysterious vigilante roaming the streets who, if he catches you in the midst of perpetrating a crime will not kill you, but you’ll not leave without a few broken bones. Only Sherlock appears to realise the link between these two events...

Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares is a new Holmes novel written by James Lovegrove, an author with a lengthy and impressive list of fantasy books.

Some characters never seem to get old, Batman, Tarzan and especially Sherlock Holmes seems to have lodged him in our collective psyche and none more so than now, with films, books and television series which mine the rich vein of Holmes mythology. Some of this new material has reimagined the character in a modern setting, Lovegrove has decided to go back to Holmes’s roots and keep him as a Victorian private detective, with his story written from the perspective of Dr Watson, Holmes’s friend, companion and partner in criminal deduction.

To further this emphasis Lovegrove has chosen to write the book in an older vernacular. Lovegrove mostly does well in capturing an older style of writing, more in common with the original novels. Unfortunately, this sometimes causes some unintentional hilarity with lines like:

“Holmes, really!” I ejaculated, unable to contain myself.

Fortunately, or possibly unfortunately, there are only a few instances of such sentences.

Stylistically the book straddles the old and the new with its emphasis on technology and action it owes not a little to the cyberpunk genre, especially in the personification of the book's adversary, Baron Cauchemar, who also owes not a little to characters like Batman in his utilisation of technology to enhance his own abilities. One look at the book's cover sees the character covered in body armour shooting gas from his arms and anachronistically riding a pair of modern leg extensions.

As an action adventure there is little deductive reasoning on show, the book's strengths emerge as the attention to character and the exciting set pieces. Now, this may not please all fans, but the approach to and appeal of the character is surprisingly elastic in the minds of the public and is closer to Conan Doyle’s original intent than some other versions.

The adventure takes Holmes and Watson through both the highs and lows of Victorian society, culminating in a satisfyingly thrilling ending.

It’s another good addition to the modern reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes.


Charles Packer

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