In the ever-expanding world of Sherlock Holmes pastiche the great detective and HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos are by no means strangers (Shadows over Baker Street, The adventure of the Innsmouth Whaler, etc) but I do believe that James Lovegrove’s The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows (It is the first of the three-part Cthulhu Casebooks) may be the first one that commences at the very beginning of the Holmes Watson relationship and spins the pair off on a series of supernatural adventures rather than into the world of logical criminal investigations created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
So its 1880 and Dr Watson is back in London following his military service in Afghanistan, flat broke and desperate to forget the nightmarish experience that saw him invalided out of the Army. a chance encounter with one of his fellow students at Bart’s Hospital in an East End pub turns nasty, but leads to his first meeting with Sherlock Holmes. Just starting out as detective Holmes is investigating a series of mysterious deaths where the emaciated remains of apparently healthy victims have been turning up with alarming regularity.
As the two young men bond together, clues lead them to the shady owner of a Chinese opium den, but the cause of death is something far more dangerous than opium and Gong Fen is little more than a convenient front for an enemy far more powerful than Holmes could possibly have imagined.
OK I know this book won’t appeal to Holmes purists, but I really enjoyed it. It’s an entertaining read and Lovegrove makes a fair stab at emulating Conan Doyle’s literary style, making it a tiny bit lighter for the 21st century reader, but without dumbing anything down. There are plenty of our favourite Holmesian characters including Inpectors Gregson and Lestrade, put upon landlady Mrs Hudson and smarter brother Mycroft, plus foggy London streets, disguises, service revolvers and Hanson cabs, in fact everything you could want from a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, all topped off with an evil villain, a certain mysterious dark volume held in the depths of the British Library’s vaults, powerful dark lurking entities and a whole bevy of reptile men.
An entertaining repositioning of Sherlock Holmes as a supernatural investigator I give The Cthulhu Casebooks: The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows a 555/666. I am really looking forward to reading Casebook Number Two Sherlock Holmes and the Miskatonic Mysteries, due to be unleashed by Titan Books in November 2017.
The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows is presented in a really handsome hardback edition from our friends at Titan Books price £12.99
Lovegrove is also the author of, shall we say a number of more ‘real world’ Sherlock Holmes adventure including: The Stuff of Nightmares, Gods of War and The Thinking Engine al available from Titan Books.