Shadows Over Baker Street: New Tales of Terror! Paperback – 4 Feb 2008
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From the Inside Flap
Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is among the most famous literary figures of all time. For more than a hundred years, his adventures have stood as imperishable monuments to the ability of human reason to penetrate every mystery, solve every puzzle, and punish every crime.
For nearly as long, the macabre tales of H. P. Lovecraft have haunted readers with their nightmarish glimpses into realms of cosmic chaos and undying evil. But what would happen if Conan Doyle's peerless detective and his allies were to find themselves faced with mysteries whose solutions lay not only beyond the grasp of logic, but of sanity itself.
In this collection of all-new, all-original tales, twenty of today's most cutting edge writers provide their answers to that burning question.
"A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman: A gruesome murder exposes a plot against the Crown, a seditious conspiracy so cunningly wrought that only one man in all London could have planned it-and only one man can hope to stop it.
"A Case of Royal Blood" by Steven-Elliot Altman: Sherlock Holmes and H. G. Wells join forces to protect a princess stalked by a ghost-or perhaps something far worse than a ghost.
"Art in the Blood" by Brian Stableford: One man's horrific affliction leads Sherlock Holmes to an ancient curse that threatens to awaken the crawling chaos slumbering in the blood of all humankind.
"The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone" by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson: A girl who has not eaten in more than three years teaches Holmes and Watson that sometimes the impossible "cannot be eliminated.
"The Horror of the Many Faces" by Tim Lebbon: Dr. Watson witnesses a maniacal murder in London-andrecognizes the villain as none other than his friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
"With these and fourteen other dark tales of madness, horror, and deduction, a new and terrible game is afoot.
The terrifyingly surreal universe of horror master H. P. Lovecraft bleeds into the logical world of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's champion of rational deduction-in these brand-new stories by twenty of today's top horror, mystery, fantasy, and science fiction writers, including:
- Steven-Elliot Altman
- Elizabeth Bear
- Poppy Z. Brite
- Simon Clark
- David Ferguson
- Paul Finch
- Neil Gaiman
- Barbara Hambly
- Caitlin R. Kiernan
- Tim Lebbon
- James Lowder
- Richard A. Lupoff
- F. Gwynplaine McIntyre
- John Pelan
- Steve Perry
- Michael Reaves
- Brian Stableford
- John P. Vourlis
- David Niall Wilson & Patricia Lee Macomber
"From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Michael Reaves is a renowned screenwriter who has written, edited, and/or produced more than three hundred teleplays for various television series, including Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Twilight Zone, Sliders, and Monsters. He was also a story editor and writer on Batman: The Animated Series, for which he won an Emmy Award for writing in 1993. He has worked for Spielberg's DreamWorks, among other studios, and is the author of several fantasy novels and supernatural thrillers, including Hell on Earth and the New York Times bestselling Star Wars novel, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter. Reaves lives in Los Angeles.
John Pelan is an acclaimed author whose fiction includes the Lovecraftian novella The Colour out of Darkness. He is the editor of such groundbreaking anthologies as Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium, The Devil Is Not Mocked, and The Last Continent: New Tales of Zothique. His solo stories have appeared in publications such as The Urbanite, Gothic.net, Enigmatic Tales, and Carpe Noctem. He is the founder of the publishing house Darkside Press, and cofounder of Midnight House. He lives in Seattle.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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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