- Series: Professor Moriarty Novels (Book 1)
- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (August 11, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312252730
- ISBN-13: 978-0312252731
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.4 x 8.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,362,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Infernal Device and Others: A Professor Moriarty Omnibus (Professor Moriarty Novels) Paperback – August 11, 2001
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I didn't buy this for the storylines, though. I bought this omnibus because I wanted to see more stories where Moriarty was the protagonist, and it's on that count that these stories disappoint me. Kurland goes a bit overboard making Moriarty a hero- we practically never hear about his criminal activities apart from the occasional "oh, yeah, sometimes he skirts the law" (or, at most, "yeah I guess maybe he robs banks sometimes to raise funds"), he meets people who are tripping over themselves to praise, thank, and admire him at every turn (except for Sherlock Holmes himself, who I'll get to in a second), and at times (I'm looking at you, "The Paradol Paradox"), he and his cohort Benjamin Barnett look exactly like Holmes and Watson with different names.
Which brings me to Sherlock Holmes, who is an out-of-character trainwreck through most of this stuff. In Kurland's alternate universe (I'm assuming this counts as an alternate universe, because I can't see Reichenbach Falls happening in this continuity without Holmes going down for murder), Holmes learned his methods from Moriarty, and then Moriarty did something that made Holmes decide "this man is capable of any crime!" Whatever this something is (and unless it comes up in the later books, we never find out), it turns Holmes into a ranting, impulsive, irrational, and annoyingly Inspector Javert-ish character whenever he thinks he might be on the trail of evidence that could put Moriarty away. This would be a little more tolerable if Kurland had established some kind of reasoning for Holmes' suspicions- that Moriarty's an anti-hero who keeps doing a lot of knowingly shady things to fund his altruistic activities, or a Leverage-type criminal who goes out of his way to rob and con rich people who victimize the rest of society. As it is, all we get is "he expected Moriarty to be a saint, and he's all mad that the guy's not perfect," which... doesn't fit with the Holmes I know from the original stories? Or any of the other spinoffs? At all?
Basically, if you can get past these characterizations, you'll probably love this omnibus. But if this kind of thing bugs you, you'd probably be better off passing this series by.
Death by Gaslight is all too chilling probable a story of the worse of the wealthy and the powerful.
This collection is, as apparently many, many readers already know (and now me, too), a wonderful collection that takes Sherlock Holmes' antipathy to Dr. Moriarty as a starting point, and goes from there. Of course, Holmes is a character here, but I never felt that Kurland was taking advantage of "the corpus" at all--but he does use it for inspiration.
These books are beautifully written with plenty of appropriate Victorian local color. They're tightly, and fairly, plotted, and they even have echoes that make them relevant to our time. (While I've long since quit teaching English, I find that I have no patience for poor writing and no time for clumsy style, so there are lots of mysteries that I don't enjoy, and won't finish. This book is NOT among those!)
I'm a fan. I'm glad there are many more of these books, and I'm looking forward to reading them.