Taking on the biggest literary characters of all time and putting them into a story of your own creation has to be difficult. At the same time, Sherlock Holmes is an old school Batman, using little more than his brilliant deductive reasoning to solve even the most complex of cases. Author Guy Adams has done this, and I must say it’s an enjoyable experience. All too often, classic characters will get abused in unwanted sequels done for simple monetary gain. Adams proves it can be done properly, capturing the essence and themes of the works of Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle honestly while telling a new story in turn-of-the-19th century London.
Sherlock Holmes and the Breath of God is the latest book to star everyone’s favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his ever-present sidekick, the fastidious Dr. John Watson. Doyle’s works, and the characters themselves, have help up over a vast array of different mediums, from their original novel form to early radio shows, numerous films and television shows, and now the circle is complete as new authors are taking a stab at the characters.
In this book, Sherlock and Watson get drawn into a mystery by Dr. John Silence, and later running into famous ghost hunter Thomas Carnacki. As with many books published by Titan Books lately, this book is set in time period of the original works, but with coy winks from an inside player with a knowledge of the literary past. When a mysterious wave of deaths involving members of the Golden Dawn Society, an upper crust secret society, Sherlock Holmes is one of a few names mentioned in a cryptic message. When Watson begins to have strange, possibly supernatural experiences himself, they come to the conclusion that they must band together and find Aleister Crowley, who is building a name for himself as a powerful occultist.
When Holmes grows weary due to disinterest and disbelief, he continues to investigate based solely on the stories described by his trusted aide Watson. As the story grows more supernatural, Holmes appears to lose some interest, but like classic Holmes, he of course will never let anything stump him, figuring out the impossible and explaining its possibility.
Here, he is figuring out the possible evil implication of “The Breath of God”, a legendary force that could possibly be used to take over the planet. When Silence, Holmes, Watson, and Carnacki finally come across Aleister Crowley, they find not a demon loving foe, but a brother in arms willing to try to help them defeat the powerful forces that have drawn forth the Breath of God.
Spawning from a complex series of mysteries, Holmes is able to deduct his way through a minefield of clouded judgments, unreliable information, and the emotions of his motley crew to seek out the real truth behind the power of The Breath of God, which Holmes doesn’t believe in any more than he does ghosts. A man of sound reasoning, he’s never found a reason to deduct in any other fashion, and as typically is the case, he is able to see past the farcical nature of the situation and find the loose threads, eventually pulling them loose until the whole thing falls apart.
Smartly written in the familiar Holmes style, the book has a crisp wit, high adventure, knowing nods to literary fans, and a well plotted mystery. With this case especially, Holmes is the 19th century Batman, using only his resources, intelligence, and instincts to resolve the case as quickly as possible. Some classic Holmes fans may be put off by the supernatural nature of the plot, but purists need not worry, the resolution comes in classic Doyle fashion.
Sherlock Holmes and the Breath of God is out now from Titan Books in bookstores everywhere. You can buy it from Amazon here.