Book Reviews

The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes by James Lovegrove Book Review.

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  • The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes.
  • James Lovegrove.
  • 368 pages.
  • Thriller / Short Story Collection / Mystery.
  • My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.

ManifestationsSH

Book Blurb.

Tales of treachery, intrigue and evil…

MAVERICK DETECTIVE SHERLOCK HOLMES AND HIS FAITHFUL CHRONICLER DR JOHN WATSON RETURN IN TWELVE THRILLING SHORT STORIES

The iconic duo find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events: an otherworldly stone whose touch inflicts fatal bleeding; a hellish potion unlocks a person s devilish psyche; Holmes’s most hated rival detective tells his story; a fiendishly clever, almost undetectable method of revenge; Watson finally has his chance to shine; and many more – including a brand-new Cthulhu Casebooks story.


Book Review.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by James Lovegrove. Some of the included shorts have previously appeared in other collections and some are new, written especially for this collection.

The short stories are:

The Adventure of the Marchindale Stiletto. The Marchindale stiletto is an heirloom of the Marchindale family. The stiletto, whilst not having much monetary value it is of historical significance and a talisman to the family. There is a superstition surrounding it and it is believed to aid the family’s continued prosperity. It is also believed to be cursed and that without the stiletto the family will fall on bad times.

Since the stiletto disappeared strange events have befallen the family that seems to prove that the curse is true. Family members have fallen ill, injury has occurred and the family fortune has suffered.

The Problem of the Emperor’s Netsuke. This short sees Holmes recounting the events to Watson on an afternoon in Baker street while there is no current case for them to solve.

There is an exhibition of Japanese art on display at a museum including part of the Emperor’s own rare Netsuke collection. The Japanese envoy in charge of overseeing the safety of the collection notices that one of the Netsuke has been moved and on further inspection finds that all bar a couple have been stolen and replaced with high-quality replicas.

The Adventure of the Fallen Financier. A senior partner in a respected London bank has gone missing. He was last spotted at a local suicide spot and the police believe that it is suicide, his wife doesn’t. Her husband had no money worries, no problems, he wasn’t stealing from the firm, there is no reason that he vanished, for him to have taken his own life and she enlists the aid of Holmes to find the truth behind his death.

The Strange Case of Dr Sacker and Mr Hope. The collection takes a dark turn with this offering and sees Lovegrove merging together Holmes and Watson with the gothic story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Holmes behaviour has altered, he has been erratic, even for him and he hasn’t been himself. He has always been eccentric but, he is now rude and volatile. He is committing acts of vandalism and showing increasing levels of animosity and resentment towards Watson. It is like Holmes has been replaced, possessed and taken over by another persona. A twisted and evil version who is going around and solving Holmes’s current cases in rather more violent fashion.

The Affair of the Yithian Stone. Continuing the vein of darkness in the collection this is the Cthulu Casebooks short story. For those who don’t know, the Cthulu Casebooks trilogy (The Shadwell Shadows, The Miskatonic Monstrosities and The Sussex Sea-Devils) merges together Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic literary creations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson with the cosmic horror of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos. It is a delightfully weird combination that works really well and that I highly recommend.

This story takes the form of a letter from 1926 with an elderly Watson recounting events from 1887, a time before Holmes was famous or any of Watson’s work about him had been published to H. P. Lovecraft.

A renowned xenoanthropologist dies from a wound that wouldn’t stop bleeding, slowly succumbing to blood loss. The death is put down to a tragic accident and previously undiagnosed haemophilia. But the son of the anthropologist has misgivings about his father’s death.

The anthropologist had amassed a large collection of extraterrestrial artefacts from his travels. On his latest expedition to some newly excavated ruins in Mesopotamia, he had brought back an intricately carved stone adorned with glyphs and had become obsessed with the stone and finding out its true origins.

Pure Swank. This short is the first of two that are told from the perspective of a minor character from within the Holmes canon. This short is told by Clarence barker who appeared in ‘The Adventure of the Retired Colourman’ as a rival consulting detective to Sherlock Holmes. In The Adventure of the Retired Colourman Holmes is investigating a break-in that turns into something more sinister and joins forces with Barker to solve the mystery.

Pure Swank recounts that case but from the perspective of Barker where he offers the true version of events and not those that were originally chronicled by Watson.

The Adventure of the Innocent Icarus. This is a different type of Holmes story. Sherlock Holmes is still Sherlock Holmes but, the world is populated by people who possess various abilities and superpowers. Those with powers are in the majority and the minority who don’t are seen as inferior and they include Holmes. In a world where people can fly and have superhuman strength Holmes using his own superior intellect and skills of deduction investigates the death of one of Britain’s richest men who accidentally fell to his death from the second storey of his house.

The Adventure of the Challenging Professor. This short includes Professor Challenger another Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creation from The Lost World. The story takes place after Challenger’s return from exploring the mist-shrouded plateau in South America that is The Lost World. The assistant to Professor Challenger dies in Challenger’s house. His assistant was an able and competent man who shouldn’t have been negligent, who knew to fastidiously undertake the safety procedures that were required. Challenger believes that there is more going on and that what has been put down to an accident, isn’t and asks for Holmes help in finding out the truth.

The Adventure of the Noble Burglar. This is the second short story following on from Pure Swank that takes a minor character from the Holmes canon and tells a story from their perspective. This time around, in a rather bizarre turn of events (the introduction to the story explains how the, if you will pardon the wordplay tail, came about) the story is told from the perspective of Toby the dog. Toby originally appeared in and aided Holmes in The Sign of the Four.

In The Adventure of the Noble Burglar Holmes is on the trail of a thief but, so far, any proof has eluded him and so, he enlists Toby and his keen sense of smell to help solve the case and bring the criminal to justice.

The Adventure of the Botanist’s Glove. In the waning years of his role as a consulting detective, in fact, not long before he retired to the Sussex coast and bee-keeping Holmes takes on the case surrounding the death of a renowned botanist who died in his conservatory and foul play is suspected.

A Bauble in Scandinavia. This short is a Christmas story that sees Watson taking centre stage. Holmes has been in a rather down and despondent mood recently and he and Watson didn’t part on the best of terms after their previous meeting. Wishing to put things right and at the insistence of Mary, his wife Watson heads to Baker street to wish Holmes a merry Christmas only to find that Holmes isn’t there.

Holmes had left earlier in the morning with nothing but a begrudging goodbye to Mrs Hudson. With worries over his current mood and fearing that something might have happened to his friend A Bauble in Scandinavia sees Watson piecing together clues and following the trail to find out what has happened to Holmes.

The Adventure of the Deadly Seance. After visiting a medium, taking part in a séance and receiving a message from the spirits that agitated and troubled him the wealthy owner of a shipping company dies in the night of a heart attack. His personal secretary, the sole beneficiary of his will and due to inherit his fortune comes to Holmes seeking his aid as there are murmurings amongst the household staff that he poisoned the owner. He is adamant that he had nothing to do with the death and hopes that Holmes will be able to prove his innocence.

I had a lot of fun with this collection. The short stories are full of mystery, intrigue, deduction and are a bunch of marvellous and cleverly plotted little puzzles. Some of the short stories have a very classic Holmes feel whilst others offer the reader something different, straying from the traditional and into the unusual. Having that variety serves to create an eclectic, varied and impressive assortment of stories. The stories take place throughout the course of Holmes career as a consulting detective from his fledgeling years when his name was just being made through the years when he was a household name, revered and well-known to all and up to his retirement.

Before each short story, there is an introduction by Lovegrove where he explains a little about the story and its origin. These introductions are a nice touch, interesting to the reader and serve to give you additional insight into Lovegrove, his work and his love for the iconic duo. Occasionally, there is a little bit of trivia about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Holmes and Watson too.

The writing, the characterisation and the sense of place for the settings are stellar throughout. Lovegrove is a terrific storyteller with a style that is reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but with the addition of some modern flourishes. He both pays homage to and respects the original creations whilst breathing fresh new life into them. All of the included shorts have their own individual merit, there is enjoyment to be found in each and every one of them and as a whole, they form what is a very satisfying and highly entertaining collection.


Purchase The Manifestations of Sherlock Holmes by James Lovegrove.

Amazon UK  Amazon US


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