Written By: Lois H. Gresh
Published by: Titan Books
Pages: 352 Pages
A mashup like this would never have happened years ago but these days where ideas are sometimes stale, taking a couple of older elements that have been around for many, many years and combining them is one way to get a fresh take. Titan books is back with another crossover between Victorian private investigator Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods of the Cthulhu Mythos in Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu: The Adventure of the Deadly Dimensions, by Lois H. Gresh.
A series of grisly murders rocks London. At each location, only a jumble of bones remains of the deceased, along with a bizarre sphere covered in strange symbols. The son of the latest victim seeks the help of Sherlock Holmes and his former partner, Dr. John Watson. They discover the common thread tying together the murders. Bizarre geometries, based on ancient schematics, enable otherworldly creatures to enter our dimension, seeking to wreak havoc and destruction. The persons responsible are gaining so much power that even Holmes’s greatest enemy fears them—to the point that he seeks an unholy alliance.
So that is the plot in a nutshell and while I am not quite sure that Gresh’s book will be wholly satisfying to fans of either Holmes or the Cthulhu Mythos it was interesting for the most part. Gresh does a fine job of capturing the spirit and feel of Arthur Conan Doyle with the Holmesian elements. She has a good handle for the character with all of his quirks and abilities. That sense of mystery is one of the books strongest forces. As it goes deeper from mystery into the supernatural horror of the deadly cult it isn’t quite as tantalizing. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing. The Cthylhu Mythos was always designed by Lovecraft to be an open sandbox for other writers in which to play. It is malleable as clay. But just know that you’re getting Lois Gresh’s version of Cthulhu, not Lovecraft’s. Capturing his version of unavoidable doom is not easy and wasn’t intended for heroic fiction although a lot of modern writers have taken it in that direction.
Interestingly, despite the mashup Gresh focuses much of the story on Dr. Watson as we see things through his eyes. Holmes struggles with the fact that his usual powers of deduction are stymied by a force that defies all logic and natural laws making for an interesting and often fun battle of contrasts. For myself, as a big fan of Lovecraft I felt there wasn’t enough Cthulhu in a book that featured his name in the title. However, as this is planned as a trilogy I would suspect we see this played up more in the future releases.