Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau – Book Review
A bit of pulp fun . . .
by Guy Adams, Titan Books
If you’re in the business of writing Sherlock Holmes stories (the rights lapsed into the public domain as long ago as 1980 in the UK), now is a quite good time to do so: the character is an all-time popular high in the public consciousness right now!
For starters there is The BBC One series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which is quite popular and gaining new viewers by the minute thanks to home video; and then there are of course the popular “what if Sherlock Holmes were more like Indiana Jones?” blockbusters starring Robert Downey, Jr.
Brit author Guy Adams’ take on his follow-up on 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: Breath of God owes perhaps more to the Downey, Jr. flicks than to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original literary “consulting detective” or even Steven Moffat’s updating of the Sherlock mythos (“what if Sherlock Holmes were more like Doctor Who?”).
There is little clever sleuthing to be done but loads of derring-do in Army as it is up to Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and some characters from other fictional works (including Conan Doyle’s own The Lost World) to stop a somewhat half-baked plot by (you guessed it) the animal-human hybrids featured in H.G. Wells’ 1896 science fiction novel The Island of Doctor Moreau.
In his notes at the end of the novel Adams admits that he intended his book as “a bit of pulp fun.”
He’s got that right. The Army of Dr Moreau won’t please the sort of Sherlock Holmes fans that prefer the character to be rooted in the “real” world (which makes them a bit like Scooby-Doo fans who complain about the new Scooby movies featuring real monsters and not just guys in masks). Science fiction fans with a taste for the post-modern will have a better time it.
The book is a brisk read written in the somewhat stilted style similar to Doyle’s. It’s pulp all right, but by the end the fact that the plot is rather on the thin side cannot be disguised by any amount of post-modern genre mash-ups.