cover image The Devil's Promise

The Devil's Promise

David Stuart Davies. Titan (www.titanbooks.com), $9.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 9

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have come to the Devonshire coast for rest and seclusion in this outstanding pastiche from British Holmes expert Davies (The Scroll of the Dead). Holmes is in a black mood from inactivity back in Baker Street, and their discovery of a bludgeoned body on the beach does little to improve his disposition, especially after an unexpected visit from a sinister local priest. The same corpse is soon found by Watson buried in the sand and later at their cottage fireplace. These inexplicable events compel Holmes to inquire in the lonely town of Howden, an evil place wracked by violence and hostility to outsiders, where the detectives encounter Enoch Blackwood, son of notorious devil worshipper Bartholomew Blackwood. Satanic forces pursue them to London, where Watson recovers from a head wound, while Holmes exhibits increasingly strange behavior in a secret investigation unlike any other in his long career. Holmes purists may not appreciate this case, but it is a gripping and deeply unsettling chronicle by a highly skilled writer. (Nov.)