It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.
Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…
Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.
Author: James Lovegrove
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 22/10/2019
My Chosen Format: Hardback
My Rating for ‘Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon: 5 out of 5
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Growing up … well, when I was about 16, I remember pretending to be sick so I could stay off school and plow my way through the Complete Sherlock Holmes collection that I’d come across. That book (a few shorts aside) was the best book I’d ever picked up and it was one of my saddest days as a reader when I finished it. So, when I got an e-mail advertising Sherlock Holmes and The Christmas Demon from Titan Books it was impossible to refuse.
I’ll also say that I had a bit of a mixed set of feelings about reading a Christmas novel in October, but it actually felt really good and now I’m well into the Christmas spirit. Sadly it will be a much different Christmas due to living in the modern age rather than Holmes’ time, but beggars can’t be choosers.
My main concern (never having read a book by this author, much less one set in the world of my favourite consulting detective) was that it wouldn’t be any good. I imagined someone trying too hard to fill the shoes left by the death of Sir Arthur. At the very least, I assumed it would be nowhere near as good as the work by Anthony Horowitz. Thankfully, it over-performed and knocked me for six. The long and the short of the previous paragraph ‘thought it might not hit a homerun, but it went and hit two.’
The writing itself is just different enough from Conan-Doyle’s writing to not make it feel like Lovegrove is trying too hard to be the great man, but brilliant enough that it fits the characters perfectly and tells a wonderful story from start to finish (even if a couple of the deductions were a bit too shoe-horned in, but then Conan-Doyle had a habit of that as well, so I suppose it fits perfectly.)
The general plot is that a young woman from a wealthy Yorkshire family comes to London at her wit’s end, claiming to be haunted by a demonic Christmas being known as ‘The Black Thurrick’. She implores Holmes and Watson to come and prove her to be of sound mind for, if she is not of sound mind, she goes without her inheritance. Holmes, spying an easy case because any sane man knows that supernatural creatures are a thing of fairy tales to scare small children, readily agrees.
The overall plot is one that the reader needs to keep a vigilant eye on (much like with any Holmes plot by any good Holmes author). The plot fractures into several different paths and the shrewdest investigator might find themselves at a loss as to how to keep all the threads tied. The book provided me with hours of evening enjoyment and sucked me right into the cold, inhospitable Yorkshire countryside come 19th century Christmas and I loved every second of it.
The characters, for the most part were well-fleshed out and believable. Some of them felt a bit over-exaggerated at times but it didn’t make the book feel bad in any way, shape or form. In fact, they felt over the top in the same way some of Conan-Doyle’s were. I would highly recommend this as not only Christmas read, but a read for any time of the year if you want a good Holmes and Watson tale.
And that cover. Beautiful? Elegant? Both describe it well. All I can say is that it’s the kind of cover that makes me happy I own the physical copy rather than a kindle version.
I hear the same author also has a Homes and Watson series set around the Cthulhu mythos and am very intrigued by that. I will have to get my hands on those books as I seriously need more Holmes and Watson in my life after the tale of The Christmas Demon.