Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares by James Lovegrove

(8.5/10) Dramatic, gripping, exciting and respectful to its source material.

It’s the autumn of 1890, and a spate of bombings has hit London. The newspapers are full of fevered speculation about anarchists, anti-monarchists and Fenians. But one man suspects an even more sinister hand behind the violence.

Sherlock Holmes believes Professor Moriarty is orchestrating a nationwide campaign of terror, but to what end?

At the same time, a bizarrely garbed figure has been spotted on the rooftops and in the grimy back alleys of the capital. He moves with the extraordinary agility of a latter-day Spring-heeled Jack. He possesses weaponry and armour of unprecedented sophistication. He is known only by the name Baron Cauchemar, and he appears to be a scourge of crime and villainy.

But is this masked man truly the force for good that he seems? Is he connected somehow to the bombings? Holmes and his faithful companion Dr Watson are about to embark on one of their strangest and most exhilarating adventures yet.

From its breath-taking and shocking opening, you know this is going to be a memorable outing for Holmes and Watson. London has, through the suspected terrorist attacks, become a city under siege. With mounting social unrest, the threat of riots and fear and confusion everywhere, our heroes are up against time as well as a formidable and cunning adversary.

This “problem” goes right to the heart of the British Empire, threatening the institution of the Monarchy itself. You know there is big trouble when the usually unflappable older brother of Holmes, Mycroft is rattled.

The enigmatic character of Baron Cauchemar is exciting and reminiscent of Iron Man or Batman. This nineteenth century vigilante suffers from the same problem: is he a friend or foe?

With its martial arts, fast, unrelenting action, suspense and heroics this has all the ingredients you could hope for in a Sherlock Holmes adventure. Fortunately, it is also clear that Lovegrove is a fan of Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as there are plenty of references and allusions to the original canon. Furthermore, and crucially, the characters of Holmes, Watson, Mycroft and Lestrade all ring true. These are not just caricatures, but the same people from the original four novels and fifty-six short stories. They are here with all their individual tics, mannerisms and eccentricities.

So, we have Sherlock Holmes, steampunk, a nineteenth century crime fighter, and a plot that could change the face of Europe. Dramatic, gripping, exciting and respectful to its source material, I thoroughly enjoyed every surprise and twist as the story unfolded. If this is to be Lovegrove’s sole novel (he has already written a Holmes pastiche prior to this) then he has left us with a very impressive continuation novel indeed.

Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares by James Lovegrove
Published 2013 by Gollancz
ISBN: 9781781165416

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Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares reader reviews

from United Kingdom

What a an imaginative plot with brilliant inventions which makes a reader to adhere themselves to the book. A gripping tale of Sherlock Holmes through Dr Watson's eyes with several twists and turns in a true Holmes style with a nail biting finale. Truly enjoyed it and would recommend to everyone who loves the best detective in the world.

8.8/10 from 2 reviews

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