The Hound of the D’Urbervilles by Kim Newman
Review by Daniel Cann
Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, August 2012
Imagine the twisted evil twins of Holmes and Watson and you have the dangerous duo of Professor James Moriarty – wily, snake-like, fiercely intelligent, terrifyingly unpredictable – and Colonel Sebastian “Basher” Moran – violent, politically incorrect, debauched. Together they run London crime, owning police and criminals alike.
A one-stop shop for all things illegal, from murder to high-class heists, Moriarty and Moran have a stream of nefarious visitors to their Conduit Street rooms, from the Christian zealots of the American West, to the bloodthirsty Si Fan and Les Vampires of Paris, as well as a certain Miss Irene Adler…
This new and completely original Holmes Universe novel, from acclaimed author Kim Newman, shows once again his flair and talent for mixing characters from fiction and placing them together in thrilling and unexpected adventures together.
After reading this, I could not believe that there have not been other Moriarty and Moran adventures. John Gardner, perhaps more famous for writing the James Bond continuation novels in the 1980s and 90s, wrote three Moriarty novels, but no one has actually written a Watson styled narrative from the criminal duo’s perspective. This is simply a comic and creative first.
Moriarty and Moran are cast as the evil alter-ego’s of Holmes and Watson; they even have a housekeeper in Mrs Halifax, instead of dear old Mrs Hudson, with one major difference: their lodgings in Conduit Street is in fact a brothel with Mrs Halifax, their landlady, as Madam.
Newman has ingeniously written seven short stories in much the same style as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did (with Watson as Holmes’ chronicler and biographer); this time Moran is the author. So rather than the customary moral indignation and sense of fair play from the pen of the good doctor, we have the politically incorrect and self-centred musings of the criminal that is Moran.
Newman has managed to expertly subvert and twist the Holmes canon to suit this dastardly pair, so, instead of “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, we have “The Hound of the D’Urbervilles”, in the place of “A Scandal In Bohemia”, we have “A Shambles In Belgravia”, and rather than “The Red-Headed League”, we have instead “The Red Planet League”, making for ingenious and riotous fun.
Clearly, as he has demonstrated with his “Anno Dracula” series, Newman has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Victorian fiction, and here he turns his sights on all things Holmesian, with a twist.
These are the criminal activities and exploits as told by a first class cad, card cheat, game hunter and braggart. The personalities, mannerisms and quirks of both Moriarty and Moran are expertly brought to life.
This collection of short stories is packed with incident and action. There is violence, gothic horror, the occult, mystery, suspense and plenty of belly laughs.
Holmes enthusiasts will have plenty to chew on; even non-initiates will be thoroughly amused and entertained, with the characters from different universes brought together for these unlikely tales.
Newman has once again produced a fantastically entertaining and fulfilling re-imagining of popular fictional characters, putting them into adventures of his own imagining, whilst succeeding in being both reverential as well as mischievous.
Published 2011 by Titan Books
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