SHADOWS OVER BAKER STREET
Release date: 09/01/2003
Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft were masters of mood and suggestion, qualities in short supply in this anthology collecting 18 all-original tales in which Sherlock Holmes and other Doylean characters confront various Lovecraftian horrors. A few contributions amount to cinematic action-adventure stories better suited to Indiana Jones, while perhaps the most atmospheric entry, Caitlín R. Kiernan's "The Drowned Geologist," with its sly Dracula allusions, relates more closely to her novel Threshold than to the book's theme. The more successful tales tend to adhere to traditional Holmesian scenarios, such as those by the two editors: Pelan's "The Mystery of the Worm" puts a neat Lovecraftian twist on one of Dr. Watson's untold cases, while Reaves's "The Adventure of the Arab's Manuscript" makes imaginative use of an unexpurgated copy of the Necronomicon found in an Afghan cave. Just as good are Richard A. Lupoff's "The Adventure of the Voorish Sign" and Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson's "The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone." F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre's "The Adventure of Exham Priory" takes the humor prize for an egotistical quip from the master detective, who alludes to the cosmic conclave of human and alien minds in HPL's "The Shadow Out of Time": "I was offered a chance to commune with intellects nearly the equal of my own." (Oct. 1)
Forecast:At the small-press level, Holmes has contended with Cthulhu in a series of adventures by Ralph E. Vaughn (Sherlock Holmes and the Ancient Gods, etc.). Given the high concept of mixing the distinctive worlds of two classic genre giants (nicely captured in the pulpy jacket art), this one should succeed in the commercial marketplace by virtue of curiosity value alone.