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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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I loved all the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson and I am a great fan of H.P. Lovecraft, so I was very excited at the idea of a meeting of those two great classics of letters. Sadly, I was mostly disappointed. With very limited exceptions texts contained in this collection are at best of very average quality and seem repeating every time the same story. To be fair, I believe that authors who tried to combine Conan Doyle and Lovecraft were facing an almost impossible task, as Sherlock Holmes investigations are a triumph of logic and reason, when Lovecraft build his work entirely on the idea of impossible (and even forbidden) understanding of universe mysteries by human reasoning. I felt tired of this book after reading two thirds of it; still I forced myself to finish it, hoping for some hidden jewels at the end. To my regret, such was not the case.

Below you will find some more details about each story, with very limited SPOILERS:

"A study in emerald" by Neil Gaiman - the BEST story in the whole book and the only one which successfully combines both universes ("holmesian" and "lovecraftian"), when in the same time perversely twisting them; a very original and very well thought story, which fully deserved its Hugo award; also I promise you, that you will never see Queen Victoria in the same way, after reading that one...

"Tiger! Tiger!" by Elizabeth Bear - Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson do not appear at all in this story, but we meet Irene Adler (and later also another Holmes adversary) instead, during a tiger hunt in India; I found this story rather disappointing, with the "lovecraftian" element particularly weak

"The case of the wavy black dagger" by Steve Perry - Holmes receives a surprising night visit, which he more or less expected; very modern and politically correct, written by a collaborator of Tom Clancy, I believe this is the WEAKEST story in the collection,

"A case of royal blood" by Steven-Elliot Altman - this story about a sinister force haunting the royal palace in Netherlands is better than most works in this collection, although once again Lovecraft's mythos is abused rather than used in this story; still, it is well written and rather enjoyable

"The weeping masks" by James Lowder - in this story Doctor Watson recalls his service in Afghanistan and a nightmarish experience he lived once in this country; not bad, but with somehow weak ending

"Art in the blood" by Brian Stableford - as it is a story about sailors, I detected in it some vague echoes of "The adventure of Black Peter" (one of my favourites); it is one of the better in the collection, but still it is not really great; it is also not exactly a lovecraftian story, as it is tainted by Derleth's "heretical" approach of the mythos...

"The curious case of Miss Violet Stone" by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson - a case of a girl who did not eat for three years and still lives; one of the weakest stories in the collection

"The adventure of the antiquarian's niece" by Barbara Hambly - a particularly dark story about a sinister family living in a half ruined manor build upon much older ruins; it could actually have been great and most of it is very good, but towards the end the author - in my modest opinion - lost control off her story and crashed it in a ditch.

"The mystery of the worm" by John Pelan - the title of this story is a nice insider joke for all fans of mythos, as it makes reference to the sinister book "De Vermis Mysteriis", invented first by Robert Bloch and included into the story "The haunter of the dark" by H.P. Lovecraft himself; the book itself is not mentioned in this story, but we heave a sneak peek in some of the reasons behind the title... It is not a bad story, but strangely Sherlock Holmes character appears in it as surprisingly careless and even a little bit silly.

"The mystery of the hanged man's puzzle" by Paul Finch - that one I actually really enjoyed and I think nobody will resist an adventure which includes - amongst other aspects - inspector Lestrade looking for an escaped 20-feet long crocodile, haunting the sewers of London... This story is deliberately quite humoristic and I am ready to bet, that Guy Ritchie read it as one of the inspirations, before making his Sherlock Holmes movie (the one with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law). Lovecraftian lore is here just a pretext for a jolly good sewer crawl, but frankly I can not hold it against the author.

"The horror of the many faces" by Tim Lebbon - this story was (I believe) somehow inspired by classical "The Thing From Another World" by John Campbell; it is however rather weak and Sherlock Holmes is once again presented here as a somehow desperate character

"The adventure of the Arab's manuscript" by Michael Reaves - this story in which the complete and uncut version of Abul Al-Azhred's book emerges unexpectedly in Afghanistan, could have been very good; but author decided to "modernize" and "feminize" Sherlock Holmes to respect political correctness; the result is ultimately very disappointing

"The drowned geologist" by Caitlin R. Kiernan - dealing with writings found together with Mesozoic Era sea reptile fossils, adopting the very lovecraftian form of a single letter, it begins quite well; but it doesn't last and this is - sadly - another failed story, with a particularly weak ending

"A case of insomnia" by John P. Vourlis - a whole little English town is affected by insomnia since four months, and a weird "thing" haunts the neighbouring woods; quite promising in the beginning, with a very colourful character joining Holmes and Watson in the investigation, this story however also disappoints in the second half and particularly in the end

"The adventure of the Voorish Sign" by Richard A. Lupoff - this is a quite honest one, with a rather successful insight into the mind and customs of Cthulhu worshippers; Watson's character is particularly well described here and the brave doctor plays a particularly important role here;

"The adventure of Exham Priory" by F. Gwynplaine Macintyre - this one is about the ultimate (no, stop laughing, no kidding folks, this time it is really really THE ultimate) confrontation between Holmes and professor Moriarty; it is one of the best in the collection; on the surface it is deadly serious, but under the thick cover of seriousness laid generously by the author, this story was made (very deliberately and very cleverly) hysterically funny, with the punch line being the cherry topping on the cake;

"Death did not become him" by David Niall Wilson and Patricia Lee Macomber - this story of a man who was autopsied by Doctor Watson only to walk next evening in his office by using his very own legs, is not particularly good, but I am still glad that I read it, because Sherlock Holmes performs here one of his most incredible mental deductions ever: "Aaron Silverman - he is a Jew!"...))) It cheered me up for the whole day!

"Nightmare in wax" by Simon Clark - in this one, Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty take a train ride to hell - and back...; not a very good story, but readable.

CONCLUSION - summa summarum, this is a rather disappointing thing; only for the most hardened Holmes fans; as for the amateurs of lovecraftian mythos, it is something you can safely skip to save your precious time and money.
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VINE VOICEon 11 January 2006
At first blush, mixing the eminently logical Sherlock Holmes with the obviously inexplicable (and importantly so) Cthulu mythos is either a brave idea or a stupid one. However, it has been done before and very well by Andy Lane in the Doctor Who novel All-Consuming Fire so I was interested to see what this collection of short stories would offer.
The stories are definitely divided into two types, with one possible exception. In the first the story features characters from the Holmes stories, though not necessarily Holmes and Watson. Thus we have tales of Irene Adler, Sebastian Moran and teamings of Holmes with other partners. On the whole I would say these are the more interesting tales, probably because the authors have a greater latitude than when producing pastiches of Conan Doyle. This leads to the second variety which are straight forward clashes of Holmes and Watson and Lovecraftian Elder Gods and their minions. Most are servicable and some are most enjoyable. However there are elements that are a little too repetitive, such as Watson never being able to forget the inexplicable events of that ghastly evening at the start of each such story. In a way this is a fault of the editors if the stories were commissioned for the volume, as there is little sense that they are building on each other, despite claims that the stories should fit Holmes' canonical timeline. This is especially so with the absolute standout story of this collection, Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald, which is undoubtedly an alternate literary history story (in that it cannot really take place in the accepted Holmes' reality without it veering very heavily from our own history).
As said, the stories are on the whole solidly written, although there are few that really spark the two concepts off each other. An attempt is made in Brian Stableford's Art in the Blood, which does point to the innate incompatibility of the two but also features a near-deification of Holmes that doesn't quite fit. Elizabeth Bear's tale of colonial India is vey enjoyable and works all the better for not featuring the Great Detective. There are a couple of duffers as you would expect. Steve Perry's tale of Holmes receiving a midnight visitor trots out the show of deductive reasoning, but goes nowhere.
That said, on the whole the book is good fun. Many of the writers are talented enough to carry off what they intend and if you've read all the Holmes stories by Doyle and crave more, this might well hit the spot.
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on 15 March 2012
The rule seems to be that if you can't write a decent, imaginative and convincing Holmes story, then write a "Holmes meets ..." story.
I've read recent stuff in which Holmes meets Freud, H G Wells (he meets him again in this collection), Dracula, the phantom of the opera, etc. etc. (If you want to see how tedious and grim this can be I recommend "The tangled skein" by D Stuart Davies)
Now he meets Cthulhu!

Oh Elder Gods!

To be fair, Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" is a gem. Witty, imaginative and showing a deep knowledge of the works of both Doyle and Lovecraft. Also "The Weeping Masks" by James Lowder I found honestly creepy and rather moving (Maybe helped by the fact that Holmes is not in it, so the narrator Watson is not forced to be the limited stereotype that most of these pastiches make him.)

The rest of the stories- well, don't set your sights too high, keep your tongue shoved into your cheek and accept it as the lightweight mish-mash it was bound to be. If you can manage that, then it's an enjoyable, if forgettable, few hours.
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VINE VOICEon 21 May 2007
Holmes continues to fascinate as a character. This brilliant detective who underneath his sharp intellect has all too human flaws has appeared in a number of novels over the years by those who appreciate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's creation. Featuring Holmes, Watson and other characters associated with the Doyle universe,they face the monsters of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos in this collection. This short story collection is exceptionally good with most of the stories top notch flights of fancy (or fantasy in this case). Keep in mind that Holmes and Watson are not in every story here (the subtitle "Sherlock Holmes enters the nightmare world of H.P. Lovecraft" makes it sound as if Holmes and his logic are the focus of every story).

The most fascinating ones for me were the ones in which Holmes partnered with H.G. Wells and Neil Gaiman's clever inversion of the Holmes/Lovecraft universe in "A Study in Emerald". Elizabeth Bear's "Tiger, Tiger!" set in India is solid with a lot of build up but the conclusion fizzles. Different folks will find other stories equally as fascinating. Simon Clark's "Nightmare in Wax" also made for fun reading as well. Actually this concept would make a great TV series since it takes characters and stories that might seem predictable now because of the passage of time and breathes new life into them.

Overall, I'd recommend Shadows Over Break Street. Editor Michael Reaves (an Emmy winner for his writing on "Batman:The Animated Series as well as a novelist and short story writer) and John Pelan (short story author and editor)have done a good job commissioning/selecting the stories in this collection with an eye for both detail and suspense. This is definitely well worth checking out for fans of both authors.
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on 25 November 2006
The idea of pitting Holmes against Lovecraft is inspired and, in theory, should produce equally inspired results. But........

The problem with this anthology is that many of the stories are formulaic - Holmes and Watson are enticed to some forbidding location, find themselves confronted with some Lovecraftian nasty, defeat/escape said nasty and go home. Individually, none of the stories are terrible (although some are rather pulpy) but taken as a whole they do rather lack distinction. There are exceptions of course, such as Neil Gaiman's opener "A Study In Emerald" but generally the stories follow a well-trodden path. If you do give this book a go my advice would be to dip into it rather than read it straight through.
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on 22 November 2006
Firstly I'd like to say that this is a fantastic premise for an anthology! Being a fan of both Conan Doyle and Lovecraft, I couldn't resist getting my hands on this.

The stories themselves, as in many of these anthologies, contains a roughly equal number of hits and misses and a fair few near hits that are entertaining enough without being brilliant. In my opinion, the weakest stories are those that attempt to write a Conan Doyle story with Lovecraftian horror elements and succeed on neither front.

There are a few noteworthies, though, and these are the ones that attempt to go on a completely different tack to a "typical" Holmes or Lovecraft story. "Tiger! Tiger!" is an interesting tale featuring Sebastion Moran and Irene Adler in India (no sign of Holmes or Watson!) more in the style of a Rider Haggard action yarn than ACD or HPL. The Weeping Masks is another good-un set during Watson's army days in Afghanistan and Art in The Blood is a very successful "true" horror story.

The icing on the cake, however, is Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald". It's fantastic and, in my opinion, worth the price of the book alone. I won't give the plot away, but it shows great respect and understanding to Conan Doyle and Lovecraft's creations while at the same time turning the whole thing on it's head.

So there you have it - although the anthology as a whole is pretty much a 3-star book, I personally was willing to go through the mediocre works to uncover the real gems (which adds another star on!). And, lets face it, even a mediocre story has got to be worth reading if it pits Holmes and Watson against the Cthulhu mythos!
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on 13 December 2007
As an admirer of both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and HP Lovecraft i was sufficiently curious enough to rush out and buy this book.

BIG MISTAKE... After reading the first half-dozen tales and skipping through the remainder i am now firmly convinced that the two genres ,while magnificent in themselves, simply do not mix. The thought of "super consulting detective" Holmes giving credibility to such goings on in prosaic Victorian London borders on the idiotic.

If psychic sleuths are your forte then do check out the vastly superior "Carnacki - The Ghost Finder" by William Hope Hodgeson. Absolutely first class and quite believable. Or any of the Jules De Grandin tales by Seabury Quinn although these are admittedly rather hard to find these days.

To freely paraphrase the great detective himself:

"He turned over the pages with eagerness, but after a short intent perusal he threw down the book with a snarl of disappointment.
"Rubbish, Watson, rubbish! What have we to do with eldritch beings who seeped down to earth vigintillions of years ago. It's pure lunacy."

Well i did say freely.
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on 5 January 2007
I could not fail to get this as an ardent Lovecraft reader and a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes.

The cover art does prepare you for a pulpy roam through a collection of Mythos encounters. They are occassionally mechanical. There are a few 'oh dear' moments and these are stories to be taken individually. It is a bit of a shame that there isn't a consistent plotline linking all the stories, it would have been so nice if there could have been some collaboration with each story providing a further glimpse to a deeper mystery.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere and did find myself immersed in each. The writers all did an excellent job in my opinion. I know i will read this again and am very glad i bought this. Infact, i bought copies for two friends for New Year presents and hope they enjoy them as much as i did.

It's a fun read. Very enjoyable.
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on 28 January 2014
This was a fairly enjoyable read, with some good stories which could draw me in quite successfully, my favourites being 'a case of insomnia' and 'the drowned geologist'.
However, the style is not quite like either Conan Doyle or Lovecraft. In most of the stories, Holmes accepts the supernatural far too easily, and seems a very different character to the originals. Now this is to be expected, but for hard core fans of either Holmes or lovecraft, this could be a disappointment. Let the tales stand on their own though, and they are fine.
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on 24 March 2015
Often these compendiums are a mixed bunch of poor quality tales but in this case it is a genius melding of HP Lovecraft's Mythos and Sherlock Holmes sleuthing. Whilst not all the tales are strictly Sherlock Holmes, there is still a distinct H. Rider Haggard feel to the them - I am thinking particularly of the second story Tiger! Tiger! Which tells of a turn of the century elephant mounted tiger hunt in India.

I found the quality of the writing generally high and very much enjoyed the collection.
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