cover image The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

James Lovegrove. Titan, $19.99 trade paper (440p) ISBN 978-1-783295-93-7

British author Lovegrove (Sherlock Holmes: The Thinking Engine) attempts a thorough revision of the canon in this trilogy kickoff, but fails to effectively blend the world of the uber-rational Holmes with that of Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors. In a prologue, Watson admits that in his previously recounted stories he has constructed “a shell of artifice around a dark, rotten kernel so as to protect civilisation from certain facts that would throw its cosy self-assurance into drastic and lasting disarray.” He begins with an altered account of his first meeting with Holmes; the pair actually met in 1880 in a seedy back alley London pub when Watson’s well-intentioned intervention in a violent confrontation involving an old colleague, Dr. Valentine Stamford, disrupted a disguised Holmes’s surveillance of the man. Holmes suspects Stamford of being behind a series of gruesome murders that have left the victims’ corpses desiccated. After Holmes has a terrifying supernatural encounter, Watson reveals the true circumstances of how he was wounded in Afghanistan, and the pair team up. Action, rather than ratiocination, dominates, and the writing is uneven. (Nov.)