Review by C.J. Bunce
In the Victorian holiday tradition of spending Christmas sharing tales of ghosts and other haunts, comes James Lovegrove′s latest novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon. Another excellent addition in Lovegrove’s long list of new tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero and his earnest confidante and co-conspirator in sleuthing, Dr. John Watson, here readers encounter the master detective in a tale of murder and high crimes in the yuletide season. Like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, expect an ample serving of curiosity and cleverness, and perhaps a side of the supernatural.
It’s 1890 and Holmes and Watson are called to Fellscar Keep in Yorkshire by one Eve Allerthorpe, the heir-apparent to a family fortune. She believes she is haunted by a Krampus-like being, the legendary Christmas demonic spirit known as the “Black Thurrick.” Holmes and Watson believe she’s being duped–the family fortune will belong to her when she turns 21 this Christmas Eve unless she is found to not be of sound mind. So who is trying to prove that she is insane? As the family and extended guests arrive for the holidays, Holmes and Watson ruffle feathers, encounter strange happenings, and investigate the wing of the house where the family matriarch died, as Watson finds himself the next target for the demon.
Lovegrove knows how to take Holmes and Watson for an unusual spin, having wrapped his Holmes trilogy The Cthulhu Casebooks this year with the final chapter, Sherlock Holmes and the Sussex Sea-Devils (reviewed here at borg and just out in paperback). As with Lovegrove’s previous Sherlock Holmes novels and his Firefly novels Big Damn Hero and The Magnificent Nine, the story is rich and funny, and the action clips along to a surprise, satisfying ending.
Whether fans of Doyle’s original stories, the thousands of Holmes and Watson stories since, or the movie series starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law or the TV show with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, readers will be familiar with the witty banter and the layered, complex relationship between the brilliant detective and his only-one-step-behind partner.
Lovegrove’s writing goes beyond the norm in Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon. His inclusion of real-world details of the Victorian era will have you believing his demonic character is an actual legend of England’s past. But it’s not, it’s part of the lore of the author’s series of Holmesian works. In fact plenty of the author’s 19th century England is a mix, but it won’t matter as the real and unreal play out together seamlessly.
Available for the first time, in hardcover from Titan Books, Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon is a great Christmas read and perfect addition to the many series of Holmes and Watson stories. Order it now here at Amazon.