As long as there are people on Earth, I suspect, there will be fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. As librarians and horror fans make arrangements to purchase the latest Sherlock Holmes movie or TV series video collection, may I also suggest picking up Gaslight Arcanum: Uncanny Tales of Sherlock Holmes to add to your display? The third anthology of a series of Gaslight Sherlock Holmes compilations (the others being Gaslight Grimoire and Gaslight Grotesque), this short story collection with a supernatural edge is both a notable and a noble tribute to the Great Consulting Detective.
All of the stories in this book are well-crafted, but the first story, "The Comfort of the Seine," is in itself worth the cost of the book, in my opinion. Stephen Volk captures the underlying passion and anxiety of a young Sherlock Holmes wonderfully in this "origins" story, offering the reader a theory that would explain some of the eccentricities of the detective that are later catalogued by his companion, Dr. Watson. A young, impressionable Holmes, who loses a lady love and later his naïveté, is fascinating to read about in this work.
Other worthy tales included "The Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes" by Tom English, where Holmes and Watson investigate a demonic tome, portrays Holmes as particularly ruthless and overly-enthralled in the case; "The Greatest Mystery" by Paul Kane, where a rash of seemingly unrelated murders by unwilling participants leads Holmes and Watson to the greatest nemesis of all of us; and "The Adventure of the Six Maledictions" by Kim Newman, which is actually a "foil" story about Professor Moriarty and his henchman, Sebastian "Dead-Eye" Moran. The weakest story in this collection is "A Country Death" by Simon Kurt Unsworth, not just because it was slow, but because it really had no relevance to the Holmes canon: a reader could exchange any name for Holmes' with no discontinuity in the plot. However, this aside, the book is well worth purchasing.
I recommend Gaslight Arcanum for Sherlock Holmes fans and anyone who enjoys a good mystery. These works are unlike Doyle's stories, where the seemingly supernatural always has a natural explanation, but the puzzles in this collection are unpredictable and compelling nonetheless. Contains: gore, violence, the supernatural
Reviewed by: W.E. Zazo-Phillips