________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 26 . . . . March 12, 2010


Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes.

J.R. Campbell & Charles Prepolec, eds.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2009.
311 pp., pbk, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-31-9.

Subject Headings:
Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character)-Fiction.
Horror tales.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4


"Well, rest assured. Mrs. Hebron is very good. You're in for a treat, mark my words. When it comes to materialization, Daphne is the best. She had one of Christ's Apostles here once. Signs of his martyrdom and everything. That woman they talk about in Stepney? The one who does levitations? Can't hold a candle to her."

Mrs. Sharman seemed to live for seances, as some women flock to the opera or men to the races. Not for the sensation, perhaps, but the security of like minds. By contrast Mr. Bythesea remained inexpressive. I know from my practice, and my experience, that bereavement affects different people in different ways. It was possible that, being a man, he never shed a tear for his lost loved one.

Mrs. Sharman was still talking. I only paid attention when she said; "Might I be so bold as to ask, doctor, what brought you here tonight? Please don't feel duty-bound to answer if the matter is too insensitive."

"I don't mind answering at all," I replied. "A dear friend of mine has died. A very dear friend." - -


Gaslight Grotesque consists of a 14 page Foreword, "Tales of Terror & Mystery," a six page Introduction, "The Horror of it all," and 13 short stories written around the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, with more of a supernatural turn than their usual mysteries.

     The first story, "Hounded," of 27 pages, opens with a seance and is a very different take on the original Baskervilles tale.

     The next story, "The Death Lantern," 15 pages long, has Holmes and Watson help Inspector Lestrade investigate a primitive motion picture machine that may hold the clue to the possible murder of a magician, or not.

     This story is followed by "The Quality of Mercy," a 17 page tale told from the point of view of a man who seeks out Doctor Watson because he believes he is being stalked by the figure of his dead wife.

     "Emily's Kiss" is the next story. Twenty-three pages long, it tells of the case of a young woman afflicted by a very rare, and dangerous, disorder.

     The sixth tale in the collection, "The Tragic Case of the Child Prodigy," is 22 pages long and is told by Doctor Watson. While coming to the aid of a young violinist, the famous pair come face-to-face with an inhuman creature of brass and lead.

     "The Last Windigo" takes Holmes and Watson to the wilds of Canada. It is a 16 page search for a vengeful spirit from out of an old Ojibwa legend.

     The eighth story is titled "Celeste." Over the next 24 pages, Sherlock Holmes and company consort with royalty in a tale that deals with strange things from the sea, and ghost ships.

     The next story, "The Best Laid Plans," is told by Inspector Lestrade. The 14 page adventure deals with Holmes's evil nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

     Number ten is a 30 pages long. Called "Exalted are the Forces of Darkness," it involves Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard, who calls upon Holmes and Watson to assist in the case of the mutilated body of a young girl.

     Twelve is the tale of "The Affair of the Heart." At 23 pages in length, it tells the story of a threat Holmes receives when a human heart arrives in his mail.

     Lucky number thirteen, which, appropriately, is 13 pages long, is "The Hand-Delivered Letter," and it describes the contents of a letter sent to Sherlock Holmes by someone meaning him no good.

     "Of the Origin of the Hound of the Baskervilles" is told from the point of view of Doctor Watson. Its 34 pages fill in the details of the back story on the famous hound from Hell.

     The final tale in the collection, "Mr. Other's Children," covers 23 pages and sends Sherlock Holmes in search of a missing Scotland Yard detective.

     There is a nine page section at the end providing background material on the contributors followed by another nine pages of information on existing and up-coming books from this publisher.

     The stories are well-written and would be appreciated by devotees of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson fiction. The authors take the traditional Victorian detective story and add elements of the supernatural and the macabre. This volume would also appeal to the readers of fantasy set with a twist of unnatural darkness.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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