Gaslight Grimoire: Dark Tales of Sherlock Holmes
Edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Cover Artist: Timothy Lantz
Review by Gayle Surrette
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781894063173
Date: 01 October 2008 List Price $16.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Sherlock Holmes is the most famous detective that never was. He represents all that is rational and logical in a detective. Arthur Conan Doyle also had an abiding interest in the occult but he never really mixed the logic of Holmes with his occult interests except when a story ended with a "couldn't it have been"…such as "The Hound of the Baskervilles" or "The Sussex Vampire". However, once Doyle's detective hit the magazines stands others did take their detectives into the world of the occult solving crimes of the paranormal kind. In this anthology, Sherlock Holmes now tackles the world of the paranormal as well as the mundane and he sometimes meets other famous detectives of his times.
Opening with a foreword by David Stuart Davies called "Ghost May Apply", we get an interesting historic look at the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, his detective Sherlock Holmes, and other literary detective of his time. Charles V. Prepolec's introduction further expounds on the subject of logic and the fantastic in the world of Holmes. Both these essays were interesting and worth the read even if the stories hadn't been good, but luckily the stories that followed were excellent.
The first story, "The Lost Boy" by Barbara Hambly was a very interesting mix of Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes. Afterall, who else would Mr. Darling call on when his three children disappeared from the nursery? Mrs. Darling is a dear friend of Mrs. Watson who is very ill, if you remember the books, and in her drugged and fever dreams, she becomes our point of view for this story. Holmes too was once a child, even though he arrived fully grown in the tales of Dr. Watson. Hambly gives us a peek at what his childhood might have been.
In "The Things That Shall Come Upon Them" by Barbara Roden, Holmes and Watson are called in on a case by Mrs. John Fitzgerald. She and her husband have recently purchased a new home and they are having some problems with intruders or ghosts -- it seems the Fitzgeralds have a difference of opinion on what the problem is. In this story, Holmes works with Flaxman Low, a paranormal detective, who has been summoned by Mr. Fitzgerald. Holmes and Low find that while their beliefs are very different; their methods are certainly not incompatible.
M.J. Elliott in "The Finishing Stroke" gives us a chilling little tale of revenge. In many ways this one reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Gray, not so much for its content as for the atmosphere of the story -- normal, but with that niggling thought that something is off-kilter here. Holmes as you'd expect manages to recognize the clues for what they are but even he didn't expect what would happen in the end.
I totally enjoyed Martin Powell's "Sherlock Holmes in The Lost World" where Holmes is implored by Jessica Cuvier Challenger, the daughter of George Edward Challenger, to help her find her father. Of course Holmes, Watson, and Jessica Challenger with the aid of Lord Roxton set off for the Lost World. The tone and feel of the story is very close to the original and the addition of Holmes and Watson add a nice touch to this thrilling adventure tale.
Kim Newman's "The Red Planet League", narrated by one of Moriarty's assistants is a wonderful tale of revenge and justice. Moriarty is, after all, a scientist as well as an evil genius and when his book, Dynamics of an Asteroid, is ridiculed by Sir Nevil Airey Stent during a public lecture. Moriarty plans revenge and halts all other activities -- illicit and legitimate -- to implement the perfect plan to gain his revenge. Not really a Holmes/Watson story but in the universe and one that shows that Moriarty, as evil as he is, does have a chilling sense of humor.
This is just a taste of what's in store. I enjoyed every story in the anthology and usually there's one or two that I are oh-hum, not here though. This is truly and interesting collection of stories that really do harken back to the original Sherlock Holmes mysteries with a bit of the paranormal thrown into the mix.