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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Cthulhu Casebooks – Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove

I read a lot and two of my favorites are the works of H.P. Lovecraft and those of Conan Doyle. While browsing my local bookstore I noticed a mash up between the two characters. At first, I was hesitant in buying it. Not only am I a fan, but a picky one as well. But I couldn’t resist and grabbed a copy.

The book is presented as the recollections of Dr. Watson to the true nature of Sherlock Holmes and their adventures together. What we all think we know is only part of the story. Embellishments on the true happenings that skip the more disturbing parts of the story. The narrative starts as Holmes and Watson first meet. Holmes is investigating some mysterious deaths that the police haven’t linked together because of their bizarre nature. Quickly Watson becomes caught up and the two of them proceed down the rabbit hole. It leads to knowledge of the Elder Gods from the Cthulhu mythos, snake men living under London, the walking dead, spells, and of course Moriarty.

I won’t say anything else because I don’t want to spoil the book, which is a great read. I’m so picky when it comes to new authors taking a shot at telling stories about another’s characters. It is the literary equivalent of a movie remake. But occasionally it is done correctly and this is one of those. Lovegrove does a wonderful job of capturing the style of Conan Doyle. The language, description of London, the behavior of the characters is all spot on. As a big Sherlock Holmes fan the quickest way of losing me would be to screw this up. Halfway thru the book I had forgotten that I wasn’t reading a Doyle authored story.

The trend of inserting zombies or some other supernatural being in classic literature has been in vogue lately. Now this is a new work in the style of the original stories so it isn’t the same thing, but I still lump it all together. Though this fits much better than the living dead wandering around Jane Austen’s world. Sherlock Holmes poking around the world created by H.P. Lovecraft fits together very well. The way the author has him use his familiar methods to decipher the spells and history of the Elder Gods just seems right. The character was always presented as someone who poured himself into research, just now instead of science it is magic. When the creatures show up they are also captured on the page in a way that will be familiar to Lovecraft fans.

I let Shadwell Shadows sit on my “to read” pile for a few months dreading the day I would finally crack it open. That was a huge mistake. This is a terrific book that managed to capture the style while being respectful to not one but two legendary authors. The only thing better than reading the book is discovering it is the first of a trilogy. I highly recommend it.

© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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