Thursday, April 11, 2013


I finished reading SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE BREATH OF GOD by Guy Adams the other day. This is actually the first book in the new Sherlock Holmes series by the British science-fiction writer. I read the second novel, SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE ARMY OF DR. MOREAU a few weeks ago.

In BREATH OF GOD, Holmes and Watson team-up with a cast of characters drawn from both real life and popular fiction. These include Aleister Crowley, a notorious real-life practitioner of the black arts, Dr. John Silence, a creation of Algernon Blackwood, Thomas Carnacki, a supernatural detective created by William Hope Hodgson and Julian Karswell, who appears in the M.R. James story, CASTING THE RUNES (which was made into the brilliant horror film, CURSE OF THE DEMON).

A series of bizarre murders are plaguing London. The victims appear to have been killed by a supernatural force dubbed "The Breath of God". The dead men have one thing in common: their names appear on a list, along with that of Sherlock Holmes, indicating that the consulting detective is fated to be the next victim. 

Holmes and Watson, along with the four paranormal oriented characters listed above investigate and soon discover that all of London is imperiled by the unknown and deadly force. It's a race against time to stop the bad guys and reveal the truth about "The Breath of God."

Once again, author Adams breaks with the narrative tradition employed by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by having other characters beside Dr. Watson tell parts of the story. Holmes drops out of the narrative for  many pages but reappears in time to reveal the truth behind the strange goings on. Holmes, ever the believer in pure logic and rational thought, refuses to believe that there is really something otherworldly taking place and of course, this being a Sherlock Holmes novel, he's correct.

SPOILER WARNING: it turns out that three of the four "supernatural" characters are actually the masterminds of the scheme. They've conspired to create a phony paranormal menace in order to swoop in at the last minute, save the day and thus, gain a modicum of power and influence as the only men who can protect the world from unseen dangers from the beyond. Yep, it's basically the same story line used in the classic OUTER LIMITS episode "The Architects of Fear". That same premise was also used as the conclusion for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons'  graphic novel masterpiece WATCHMEN. And of course, every episode of SCOOBY-DOO revealed the "monster" to be a man in a suit. 

SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE BREATH OF GOD is good, fast paced fun. However, the rational explanation provided by Holmes does not fully explain away everything that transpires in the book. We're left to wonder just what exactly was real and what was really magic. Recommended to fans of Holmes and the other characters and to mystery lovers. 

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