Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God (Guy Adams)

Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God
(The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
Guy Adams
Titan Books
Fiction, Historical Fiction/Mystery
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: In the final days of the 19th century, the great detective Sherlock Holmes finds his career as a consulting detective at a drift. Dr. John Watson, his longtime friend and biographer, still grieves his late wife Mary, hardly able to help lift the moody genius from his deepening funk. Finally, a letter sparks a glimmer of interest, the first in many months. London's notorious "Psychic Doctor" Dr. Silence, whose practices defy tradition yet seem to generate results, comes to Holmes with a chilling message, said to come from the lips of a possessed child.
Holmes might wave off the story as superstitious nonsense, but when he and Watson examine the body of the unfortunate Hilary De Montford - a social dandy, his body found mangled and crushed nearly beyond recognition by forces that defy explanation - it becomes clear that there's more to Silence's tale than smoke and mirrors. Holmes takes up the trail, with Watson faithfully at his side... but can the skeptical, rational-minded detective hope to prevail against forces that best even the day's most skilled occultists?

REVIEW: I wanted to enjoy this book more than I did, but it seemed to keep getting in my way. Being bound to the Sherlock Holmes canon, it was a given that the spiritual and demonic aspects, woven into so much of the plot in a way that has even the good Doctor Watson questioning reality, would ultimately come to far less than they were played up to be. Thus, once again, Holmes sets Watson up to play the fool, while he keeps his clockwork-cool mind apart from and above the strange phenomena and stranger characters. I know Holmes tended to treat Watson with condescension - as he treated most everyone - but I still found it subtly irksome, especially as Watson's growing crisis intertwines with his unresolved grief over Mary... the sort of emotional Hell that the great detective himself never understood and scarcely respected, even in his best friend. Adams brings in the real-life figure Aleister Crowley - popular occultist, member of the famed Order of the Golden Dawn, and once dubbed "The Wickedest Man in the World" - as well as other characters from period fiction; they proved a mixed lot when it comes to meshing with the Holmes universe. Naturally, convoluted as the events become, Sherlock manages to untangle truth from fiction and reality from illusion, but not before more tragedies befall. In the end, hints and shadows remain that not everything was as it seemed, hints that even Holmes himself cannot entirely deny. Considering how much of the narrative devoted itself to what amounted to smoke and mirrors, I confess to feeling a bit rooked in the end. Still, I've read worse, and as a character study - watching Watson work through the possibility of reality being less solid than he always believed, while coming to terms with his own grief and pain - it makes for reasonably intriguing reading.

You might also enjoy:
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) - My Review
The House of Silk (Anthony Horowitz) - My Review
Sherlock: Season One- Amazon DVD Link
Young Sherlock Holmes- Amazon DVD link


  1. Nice review! I need to check this book out..

    Have you read "The House of Silk" by Anthony Horowitz. I liked it immensely.


  2. Hello! Thanks for stopping by!

    I have read "The House of Silk" - an excellent take on the classic characters.