Shadows Over Baker Street

shadows over baker streetI couldn’t let the days before Halloween go without one more side-step into the alternate realms of Sherlock Holmes.  This is, simply put, a work of genius and one of the best collection of pastiches I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.  (Twice.) 

Sherlock Holmes is probably the most well known detective in the world.  He is a man of logic; a reasoning machine that can deduce solutions to crimes with barely a glance.  But what happens when he enters the world of H. P. Lovecraft; a world of madness and insanity, of otherworldly gods and denizens of the deep?  Can his deductive reasoning find a way to pierce the Shadows over Baker Street

This is an idea that mashes together two of my favorite worlds of fiction and it’s hard to imagine how nicely they blend.  On their own, both worlds are exciting.  Sort of like fruit and chocolate; had someone told me that mixing dark chocolate with orange rinds was a good thing, I would have scoffed.  Who eats orange rinds, anyway?  But then you take the first bite and there’s no going back.  Shadows over Baker Street is that magnificent combination of Holmes and the Cthulhu mythos.  And to explain why it’s great is far from elementary, but maybe I can whet your appetites with a quick blurb about each of the 18 stories that form this volume.  

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman – A story about royalty, and a retelling of A Study in Scarlet as only Neil Gaiman could tell it.  This was so amazing that it even got a graphic novel version that is equally worth the time.

Tiger!  Tiger! by Elizabeth Bear – Adventuress Irene Adler goes on a safari hunting a man-eating tiger only to discover that she and her party are hunted by a more dangerous adversary.  Colonel Sabastian Moran makes a brave appearance but even his marksmanship is of little good against what is hunting them.

The Case of the Wavy Black Dagger by Steve Perry – On a trip to NY, Holmes is visited by a woman in search of one of a set of daggers.  This story is reminiscent of The Mazarin Stone as it takes place entirely in the room in which Sherlock is staying.  It is a dialogue between him and the mysterious woman, and while the story was short, it was completely engrossing.

A Case of Royal Blood by Steven-Elliot Altman – When Holmes is called upon to investigate a mysterious attack on Dutch royalty by an apparition, he calls on his friend Herbert George Wells.  Wells, a noted writer of fiction has some ideas that might prove useful but even he is not ready to uncover the dreaded Necronomicon or a worshipper of Yog Sothoth.  But we do find out that his inspiration for the Martian invasion came from a far darker source than we’d ever expected!

The Weeping Masks by James Lowder – Watson recounts his travels in Afghanistan, the injury from the Jezail bullet and the strange priests with their weeping masks that almost claimed his life.

Art in the Blood by Brian Stableford – A stone carving will push Sherlock to the very limits of his understanding and even brother Mycroft can’t offer solace….

The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson – the great old ones trade places with a young lady and it’s up to Holmes to sort things out!

The Adventure of the Antiquarian’s Niece by Barbara Hambly – Holmes is asked to find out why a man can’t be with a woman and discovers her role runs deeper than expected.

The Mystery of the Worm by John Pelan – Holmes is asked to assist in an experiment that offers a chance to connect with alien intelligence…  How could Holmes turn down that offer? 

The Mystery of the Hanged Man’s Puzzle by Paul Finch – When a convicted felon offers Holmes a riddle, the intrepid duo seek out London’s water supply and a resident of Innsmouth!

The Horror of the Many Faces by Tim Lebbon – a case of mistaken identity puts a bee in Watsons bonnet regarding his familiarity with a killer.  A wonderfully disturbing story that stuck with me well past reading it.  

The Adventure of the Arabs Manuscript by Michael Reaves – Watson meets an old flame who needs help finding a mad Arabs text. Watson proves to be a skilled doctor and Holmes realizes there’s a multiverse… 

The Drowned Geologist by Caitlin R. Kiernan – an unsent letter about fossils may have lead Watson to learn of Holmes being alive during his great hiatus.

A Case of Insomnia by John P. Vourlis – when an entire town can’t sleep, Holmes tries to find the culprit and gets more than he bargained for!

The Adventure of the Voorish Sign by Richard A. Lupoff  Holmes is asked to help pull a man from the clutches of darkness in the Anthracite Palace.

The Adventure of Exham Priory by F. Gwynplain MacIntyre – Holmes and Watson find a Venus flytrap waiting in a priory while helping an afflicted man.

Death Did Not Become Him by David Niall Wilson and Patricia Lee Macomber – when Watson finds a dead man walking, he and Holmes investigate a green liquid and some arcane lore.

Nightmare in Wax by Simon Clark – Watson gets a phonograph recording of Moriarty’s train ride to a cursed city, while Holmes works on recovering the Necronomicon. And there’s an alluring hint of “to be continued” at the end.  I would certainly tune in for another batch of these stories!study in emerald

Shadow Over Baker Street is perhaps one of the best pastiches I’ve ever read.  There are a number of good ones, but merging the Lovecraftian with the Holmesian is my favorite juxtaposition of genres.  It combines two things that shouldn’t work well together and yet manages to make something amazing.  You may have a hard time finding the physical copy, but you’ll be able to grab the Kindle, Nook or iBooks version, and you won’t regret a word of it!  And if you’re up for the extra reading, check out the graphic novel version of A Study in Emerald.  It’s a fast read that you’ll go back to time and again.  ML

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2 Responses to Shadows Over Baker Street

  1. Roger Pocock says:

    I’m not surprised Holmes and Lovecraft blends together well. I’ve read some of Conan Doyle’s ghost stories and you could imagine them having been written by Lovecraft – quite similar in style.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. scifimike70 says:

    Having a sleuthing mind as logical as Sherlock Holmes challenged by a Lovecraftian universe is as interesting as a crossover can get. Even if writing styles may be similar, the line between all that’s different and all that’s compatible can be like a tightrope. Even with the most imaginable notions, like Star Trek meets Star Wars or Dr. Who meets Sapphire & Steel. But of course that’s the fun. So this ingeniously successful contribution reaffirms the timeless appeal of Sherlock Holmes. Thank you, ML, for including it on the Junkyard.

    Liked by 1 person

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