Monday, October 13, 2014

Shadows Over Baker Street!


Shadows Over Baker Street is a volume I've had on my shelves for years. I've dabbled in it here and there over the years, but never read it through. That's now corrected.

The editors of this volume, Michael Reaves and John Pelan, arrange the tales chronologically along the timeline of the career of Sherlock Holmes. The editors supply stories themselves and we are presented with some stark tales full of mortal danger and immortal dread.

Here are the stories.

"A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman is the headliner in this collection, a Hugo award winner. This Gaiman at the top of his game with truly weird reinterpretation of the Sherlock Holmes mythos in a world where good and evil are somewhat confused. The detection in this one is on the reader. (1881)

"Tiger, Tiger" by Elizabeth Bear is a story of India starring the stalwart Irene Adler as she goes on safari looking for tigers and creatures even more dangerous and mysterious.(1882)

"The Case of the Wavy Black Dagger" by Steve Perry is less a story than a character piece about ancient practices which involved some very dangerous weapons and some very dangerous ancient gods.(1884)

"A Case of Royal Blood" by Steven-Elliot Altman features Sherlock, this time with a new narrator, one H.G.Wells, as the pair confront some very old evil in the Swedish royal court. There's some very handsome description in this one, especially of a dream Wells has.(1888)

"The Weeping Masks" by James Lowder focuses on Dr.Watson in his days in Afghanistan and his weird encounter with a cult that ravages the villages behind the enemy lines.(1890)

"Art in the Blood" by Brian Stableford feature Mycroft and Sherlock as they work together to help a forlorn sailor who has a grim dark secret concerning some downright evil faces.(1892)

"The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone" by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson tells how Holmes and Watson help a lost traveler find its way back home, but that home is very far away indeed. (1894)

"The Adventure of the Antiquarian's Niece" by Barbara Hambly tells the exceedingly creepy tale of a young woman who is in danger from the immortal designs of her grandfather and uncle and Sherlock and Watson and guest-star Carnacki don't quite save the day. (1894)

"The Mystery of the Worm" by John Pelan is about the quest of immortality and features the menace of  Dr.Nikola who invades 221B Baker Street for the first time. (1894)

"The Mystery of the Hanged Man's Puzzle" by Paul Finch presents a tale of Holmes and Watson battling a threat out of Lovecraft's depraved Innsmouth and the menace it poses to the very belly of London and the world. (1897)

"The Horror of the Many Faces" by Tim Lebbon tells the hair-raising events which point to Sherlock himself as a brutal and sadistic murderer, or at least that's what Watson believes he saw with is own eyes. (1898)

"The Adventure of the Arab's Manuscript" by Michael Reaves is a rousing tale about a secret from Watson's past as well as letting us know that as dangerous as The Necronomicon might be there is a an ancient tome which is even more dangerous. (1898)

"The Drowned Geologist" by Caitlin R. Kiernan is a very atmospheric piece from the point of view of a confused academic who runs up on a mystery off the coast of Whitby where he meets a rather familiar stranger. (1898)

"A Case of Insomnia" by John P. Vourlis sends Homes and Watson to a town which cannot sleep because of fear of what comes crouching out of the dark shadows. (1899)

"The Adventure of the Voorish Sign" by Richard A. Lupoff is weird tale of a desperate but doughty woman and her mysterious ancestral home called the "Anthracite Castle" and what a dangerous mystical sect had hidden within. There is a reference Arthur Machen in his lively adventure which literally traverses the world and beyond.  (1899)

"The Adventure of the Exham Priory" by F. Gwynplaine Macintyre tells of another ancient home which seems the perfect place for some exceedingly evil doings as a doomed man seeks to save his soul if not his life from the power of the Old Ones.  (1901)

"Death Did Not Become Him" by David Niall Wilson and Patricia Lee McComber in a vivid tale Holmes and Watson are on the track of the walking dead and of the evil man who cannot quite control them or himself.  (1902)

"Nightmare in Wax" by Simon Clark is a tale told in a new way as the recorded voice of Moriarty relates his most nefarious scheme to achieve the immortality he so longs for, but of course he cannot do without the use of the infamous Necronomicon.  (1915)

The stories are almost all engaging and make some creative use of Lovecraft's lore, though often combining elements of it in ways I found fascinating. Not all the stories are equally good, but the best of them are enthralling additions to the canons of Sherlock Holmes and to the C'Thulhu Mythos as well.

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