Follow Here To Purchase Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau

Author: Guy Adams

Publisher: Titan Books (August 7, 2012)

ISBN-10: 0857689339

ISBN-13: 978-0857689337 

 “Some people are just built differently from others. Holmes' mind was a thing of wonder, never to find its match again. But for every leap of deductive brilliance, every astounding piece of analysis, there was a price to be paid. Quite simply, genius has its faults. He exercised that brain of his so much, abused it terribly, that it is no wonder that it repaid him with shifting moods. A man cannot kick a soccer ball between the goalposts with such frequency without occasionally tearing a ligament and suffering from a limp. The important thing to remember about Holmes is this: the man was brilliant and also the very best friend I ever had.”

Even when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was alive, fellow writers couldn’t resist taking liberties with his most famous character. For example, Mark Twain lampooned Sherlock Holmes in the 1902 Old West set Double Barreled Detective Story. Thereafter, novelists and scriptwriters have determined Holmes was also Jack the Ripper or that Professor Moriarty was the dark side of Holmes’ own mind. One TV pilot had Holmes waking up in the 20th Century after being cryogenically frozen, the Basil Rathbone series had Holmes and Watson inexplicably vital during World War II, and The Seven Percent Solution had Holmes treated for drug addiction by Sigmund Freud.

The most literate of these efforts, of course, have Holmes living in his Victorian era riding hansom cabs in or near the London where he resided at 221B Baker Street. But sticking to such time and geographic constraints hasn’t limited writers from bringing in fantastical elements from the realm of science fiction. The most common device for such writers is to begin their tales saying what they’re about to relate was once so secret, it had to be kept confidential until now.  Take, for example, The Army of Dr. Moreau, the second Holmes story from Guy Adams.

The title alone should signal what Holmes and Watson will be facing in this adventure. The island of Dr. Moreau was a rather famous 1896 H.G. Wells story in which a mad scientist discovers how to create creatures merging man with various species of the animal kingdom. Yep, same guy. In Adams’ mash-up, however, it turns out Moreau had been working for Mycroft Holmes in his secret shadow government but went way, way over the edge. Now, after strange corpses are showing up in London, Mycroft fears Moreau is alive, well, and threatening the peace of the realm.

But the Holmes brothers and Dr. Moreau aren’t the only well-known literary characters to populate this nod to pulp thrillers. To aid Sherlock, Mycroft has assembled an odd “think tank” including Professor Challenger from Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Professor Lindenbrook from Jules Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Abner Perry from Edgar Rice Burroughs' At the Earth’s Core. These cameos, however, are merely red herrings that help spice up the dialogue and add another layer to the books healthy streak of humor. For another example, while the tale is told through the usual perspective of Dr. John Watson, Holmes himself has a short part of the story to tell, and he begins by saying:

As for whether I can satisfy his imaginary readers - of this, a case that will likely never be read - only time will tell. Certainly, I can do no worse. If his editor ever has cause to read it and is concerned that it is lacking in excitement I hereby give my permission for him to insert a superfluous boat chase or fist fight. I trust that what few intelligent readers my Boswell has left will have the good sense to skip such juvenilia and move straight on to the facts.”

Well, there are neither boat chases nor fist fights, but there’s plenty of action in between long monologues that are surprisingly lively on their own. What can you expect when one of these is told by a talking dog/man handcuffed in Holmes drawing room after being incapacitated by a handy dog whistle? This isn’t to say The Army of Dr. Moreau is a comedy, parody, or lampoon. It’s also not a dark psychological thriller nor an exercise in sociological commentary. It’s light, diverting entertainment as told through the intelligent personae of Dr. John Watson M.D., a wry observer of the strangest adventures any Boswell has ever witnessed.

 Looks like I need to back-track a bit and pick up Adams first story, Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God. Apparently, it has something to do with the supernatural and Aleister Crowley . . .

 Follow Here To Purchase Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Doctor Moreau