Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shadows over Baker Street

Shadows Over Baker Street: New Tales of Terror
edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan, 2003

“Sherlock Holmes enters the nightmare world of H.P. Lovecraft” says the cover and that pretty much tells you what is going to be in this book - stories that pit Holmes and Watson against the agents of the Great Old Ones. Maybe I am jaded but I wouldn't consider any of the stories particularly horrific. Certainly none generated the delicious anticipation of horror and dread as when I first read Lovecraft many years ago. The pleasure for me was seeing how the styles of Doyle and Lovecraft were blended and I suspect that will be the case for many experienced readers.

Neil Gaiman's A Study in Emerald leads off the collection and is my favorite story. Gaiman writes in the familiar Watsonian first person style we are used to but gives the theme a twist that makes it a fun read. Gaiman won a Hugo for the story.

While many contributors approach the subject as a Watson first person story, there are exceptions. Tiger! Tiger! recounts a story featuring Irene Adler and, briefly, Sebastian Moran( later recognized by Holmes as the second most dangerous man in England) in India. Adler, you might recall, made only one appearance in the Holmes stories in A Scandal in Bohemia. The Drowned Geologist, is a letter to Watson in which a palaeontologist describes a meeting with Holmes during the period when he was believed dead after the events at the Reichenbach Falls. A Case of Royal Blood is narrated by H. G. Wells in which he and Holmes assist the royal family of the Netherlands. The Weeping Masks gives us some back-story on Watson's time in Afghanistan, events he never related to Holmes.

Readers of the exploits of Sherlock Holmes know that he retired to raise bees. Three of the stories reference bees allowing one to deduce that Holmes' interest had more sinister origins.

I would recommend this book to those familiar with the exploits of Sherlock Holmes and the Cthulhu mythos and who want to expand their collection.