The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes by James Lovegrove

sherlock

Blurb: 

Tales of treachery, intrigue and evil…

MAVERICK DETECTIVE SHERLOCK HOLMES AND HIS FAITHFUL CHRONICLER DR JOHN WATSON RETURN IN TWELVE THRILLING SHORT STORIES

The iconic duo find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events: an otherworldly stone whose touch inflicts fatal bleeding; a hellish potion unlocks a person’s devilish psyche; Holmes’s most hated rival detective tells his story; a fiendishly clever, almost undetectable method of revenge; Watson finally has his chance to shine; and many more – including a brand-new Cthulhu Casebooks story.

 

Author: James Lovegrove

Publisher: Titan Books

Release Date: 21/01/2020

Pages: 288

My chosen format: Kindle

My Rating for ‘The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes’: 4 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UKAmazon US

 

Review:

In order to get a more complete look and sense of the book for a review, I have done a mini-review for each short story, gave it a mark out of five and then added all the ratings up and divided by twelve (the number of ratings) to get the overall score for the book as a whole. The total came to 50 out of 60 when, divided by 12 =4.1. So 4 stars it is.

The Adventure of the Marchindale Stiletto:

3 stars out of 5

Holmes, in the infancy of his career, takes on the case of a missing dagger. Said dagger vanished without a trace after being thrown into a pond as a prank. The knife is a lucky charm of sorts and, with its loss comes the misfortune of its owners. I wanted to love this but only ended up liking it. It felt too easy to keep up with Sherlock, the clues were a bit over-exposed to the audience and instead of a red herring, as is the usual formula, we were seemingly just thrown in the correct direction. The story-building was fairly good but, due to the shortness, it felt somewhat rushed. There was zero back and forth with Watson. In fact, the good doctor barely had any input at all. I kind of felt that the preamble to the story saying it was meant to look magical but was actually mundane, kind of lessened the appeal.

 

The Problem of the Emperor’s Netsuke:

4 stars out of 5

This was a far better length for a Holmes story. It takes a break from the standard formula of Watson telling the story by, in this instance, having Holmes recount an old case of his that Watson wasn’t present for. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this style (Holmes is not the same level of storyteller that Watson is) but it was an enjoyable piece about some stolen museum pieces. My only real issue with this was the reveal of the villain. Far too chilled and relaxed. No back and forth between Holmes and the bad guy. 

 

The Adventure of the Fallen Financier:

4 stars out of 5

This story takes place in Holmes’ retirement. He is approached by a woman wishing him to help prove that her husband did not commit suicide and that he is, indeed, still alive. It has the non-straight forward, difficult to piece together clues that make for a good Holmes story. My only downside is that there never seems a great deal of urgency and that it was a tad rushed. There was also never that sense of engagement and excitement I feel when reading a Holmes tale. However, I put that part down mostly to the fact that they are both old, retired gentlemen at this point. So probably more good story telling and character work on the author’s part than anything.

 

The Strange Case of Dr Sacker and Mr Hope:

4 stars out of 5

This manifestation of Holmes is something quite different entirely. As you can imagine from the title it gives the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde flair to our favourite crime-fighting duo. It toys with the darker side of our heroes and, for the most part, leaves the reader wondering if there is some elaborate ploy, or have our heroes turned to darker means? It’s an interesting twist on the Holmes and Watson universe but, for some reason, I just expected a tad more from the end.

 

The Affair of the Yithian Stone:

5 stars out of 5

This tale is set in the cosmic horror/cthulhu mythos arc of the Holmes universe that Titan publish. It takes place in between book one and two, however I fancy you could read it without ever having tried Shadwell Shadows. As you can imagine when dealing with the twisted nature of cosmic horror, the genius detective work that is usually present takes somewhat of a back seat. That aside, there is still a damn good short story in here and this tale adds to the cosmic horror story aspect (indeed, it sparks Watson’s interest in writing the books in the first place) and for that reason it deserves full marks.

 

Pure Swank:

5 stars out of 5

Although Holmes is featured in this one, he is not the primary focus. That honour falls to a Mr Barker as he tells the other side of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories ‘The Adventure of the Retired Colourman’. Barker is a bitter, jealous, yet clever man and all of this bleeds through into his telling. His backstory, and how it links with Holmes is interesting. I enjoyed this far more than I expected to.

 

The Adventure of the Innocent Icarus:

5 stars out of 5

This tale takes place in a world where the majority of the population were born with superpowers or gifts of some sort. Holmes, sadly, was born without (a ‘Typical’) and thus uses his keen mind to get ahead. I fully expected to hate this. The premise alone was enough to make me groan and wish I could just dodge certain tales … but the author took time to write this so it’s only fair I repay that effort by taking the time to read it. And I’m glad I did.  I couldn’t have been more wrong about my preconceived dislike of this and it ended up being one of my favourites of the collection. A surprisingly good read. To my relief, the powers aren’t overdone and feel, surprisingly natural.

 

The Adventure of the Challenging Professor:

5 stars out of 5

This was a wonderful cross over piece. The fact that Professor Challenger (from one of my all time favourite classics, The Lost World) comes asking Holmes for help made my day. I knew I would love this and it did not let me down. Challenger requests that our retired hero aids him in discovering who engineered the death of his assistant. I know I said that the previous story was one of my favourites, this one IS my favourite purely due to the deep connection it has to The Lost World. The storytelling is on point and I feel Lovegrove captured Challenger’s blustery character well.

 

The Adventure of the Noble Burglar:

4 stars out of 5

This is another story told from the perspective of a minor character in the Holmes universe … Toby the Dog (from the Sign of the Four). Now, my being of sound mind knew that Lovegrove couldn’t strike gold twice with concepts that should not be a concept. So, unlike Icarus, I did not expect to be pleasantly surprised. But I was. Again. Damn you James Lovegrove. This was a charming, humorous tale that I found very difficult to dislike. Toby grows on your very quickly. Now to figure out how a bloody dog can pen a short story. 

 

The Adventure of the Botanist’s Glove:

5 stars out of 5

This one ticked all the boxes of a great Holmes short story. It had everything I could want and it neither felt rushed nor did it drag on. Holmes, approaching retirement, is asked by a young housemaid to prove that she was not guilty of a negligence that ended up causing the death of her beloved employer. Enjoyable read from start to finish. If I had been in charge of the running order, this one would have started off the collection without a second thought.

 

A Bauble in Scandinavia:

2 stars out of 5

In this Christmas tale, Dr Watson has his chance to shine as he forced to solve a string of clues to try and discover what has caused his friend, Sherlock Holmes, to start acting in such an uncharacteristic manner. I get the point of this, I really do. It’s not without its charms, it’s just not what I view as an enjoyable Holmes read. It was painfully obvious (to everyone except Dr Watson) what was going on from the first clue or so. I hate to be so negative about something in a book I have loved, but it just felt like a waste of time. To be fair to the piece, it was fairly heartwarming.

 

The Adventure of the Deadly Seance:

4 stars out of 5

This, the final tale of the collection sees Sherlock Holmes wage war on spiritual mediums, enraged at their charlatanry after delving into a case of a man, dead by heart attack, to find these spiritualists at the root of the thing. Although an enjoyable piece, I did feel it dragged on a bit. It certainly felt longer than was needed. I did like the irony of how Conan Doyle was one of the most ardent believers of all things spiritual and in this, his most famed creation was ripping apart those beliefs at the seams.

 

25 thoughts on “The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes by James Lovegrove

      1. I did very much enjoy Anthony Horowitz’ books, especially the second one (though it has been a while since I read them). I also thought Mitch Cullin’s book was interesting (it is what the Mr Holmes movie with Ian McKellen was based on). Thats all I can think of right now. Most I have read lately are either middle grade or has some niece/young female relative in the lead which are entertaining enough but not the best Sherlock books.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Aye, I hear you! Though what else to do during lockdown, if not read books? 😀 You may try libraries online, if you have that service available… It still works for me 🙂 and besides, it’s much more difficult to get a physical book, as our government actively dissuades people from buying from abroad 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This Lovegrove dude seems to have some really interesting ideas to exploit. I too am a sucker for Sherlock stories but deep down I am also convinced that it’s super hard to get these stories right. My expectations are just so high. But again, it seems that many appreciate what Lovegrove has accomplished. Might have to give him a chance now. Thanks for sharing these great mini-reviews, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

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