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Shadows Over Baker Street Hardcover – September 30, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft were masters of mood and suggestion, qualities in short supply in this anthology collecting 18 all-original tales in which Sherlock Holmes and other Doylean characters confront various Lovecraftian horrors. A few contributions amount to cinematic action-adventure stories better suited to Indiana Jones, while perhaps the most atmospheric entry, Caitlin R. Kiernan's "The Drowned Geologist," with its sly Dracula allusions, relates more closely to her novel Threshold than to the book's theme. The more successful tales tend to adhere to traditional Holmesian scenarios, such as those by the two editors: Pelan's "The Mystery of the Worm" puts a neat Lovecraftian twist on one of Dr. Watson's untold cases, while Reaves's "The Adventure of the Arab's Manuscript" makes imaginative use of an unexpurgated copy of the Necronomicon found in an Afghan cave. Just as good are Richard A. Lupoff's "The Adventure of the Voorish Sign" and Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson's "The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone." F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre's "The Adventure of Exham Priory" takes the humor prize for an egotistical quip from the master detective, who alludes to the cosmic conclave of human and alien minds in HPL's "The Shadow Out of Time": "I was offered a chance to commune with intellects nearly the equal of my own."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Here's a real treat for fans of Sherlock Holmes, H. P. Lovecraft, and everyone in between: 20 original stories by writers of horror and fantasy. Neil Gaiman is here, along with Barbara Hambly, Richard Lupoff, Brian Stableford, Poppy Z. Brite, and many more. The premise is engaging: What if the world of Holmes, the world's most logical and rational detective, intersected with the world of Lovecraft, where logic and rationality have little meaning? These are stories about strange beasts, men cursed to death, and the walking un-dead. Most feature a powerful narrative voice. One stars Irene Adler and takes place nearly a decade before the events recounted in the classic Conan Doyle story, "A Scandal in Bohemia." Another is narrated by H. G. Wells. Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's brother, appears in one tale; still another has Dr. Watson becoming Holmes' client. The stories, set between 1881 and 1915, are uniformly excellent, and the book, authorized by the Doyle estate, is a welcome addition to the Holmes canon. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1 edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345455282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345455284
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I can half heartedly reccomend this with serious caveats.
Problem one. It is really a one-trick pony. OK. You get it. Holmes vs. various mythos creatures. This looks great on paper but does not sustain a book. If you are really interested, however, and since many of the stories are entertaining and a couple actually thought provoking, then buy it and read no more than one story a month, maybe every 6 weeks. This isn't only because of the limitations of the idea, but also because all but two authors chose (generally successfully) to mimic Doyle's/"Watson's" writing style.
Problem two. A disproportionate number of stories are based on The Shadow over Innsmouth. One that isn't, "The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone," is, as has been pointed out by a previous review, based on The Shadow out of Time. This is one of the two best stories in the book. A few stories seem headed off down that sidetrack created by August Derleth where there was a chance in fighting back and winning with Help from Outside. In HPL doom was eventually inevitable and there was no Help available.
"Death Did Not Become Him" is very tenuously mythos being more related to the story of the Golem and Cabbalistic mysticism with a pretty lane excuse given for the connection.
Most of The Uspeakable Old Ones are named in various chants and so forth, but few put in an appearance. In the original HPL the power of suggestion hightened the suspense. Here it is merely disappointing. Shub-Niggurath has a cameo and I think (based on precious little evidence) that Nyarlathotep has some off-stage schtick. Most disappointing, Chthlhu Himself is totally AWOL, replaced by innumerable aquatic hybrids.
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Many fans of the literature of H.P. Lovecraft wonder what his fiction would have been like if set in another era. Ramsey Campbell is perhaps the best representative of the '60s and '70s while John Tynes and his crew admirably adapt the core of Cthulhu to the 1990's. But what about the 1890's? Well, there is already a game afoot in that period and it is the inestimable Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion and recorder Dr. John Watson. The 1890's of Sherlock Holmes brings to the table of the Lovecraftian corpus the very summit of the Enlightenment and Rationality to be broken on the jagged rocks of Madness and Otherworldliness. Before the humbling of the Great War, all the power and prestige of the West was to be found in London, as well as the darkness of poverty, suffering, and a bubbling social revolution, ripe to be exploited for the Mythos.

Some of the stories herein are mere supernatural detective tales. The Sherlock Holmes we know and love has never been beaten and can conquer even the eldritch and the horrific when armed with the Necronomicon. Here, the gnosticism of Abdul Al-Hazred is simply one more tool in the box of Holmes for fighting the forces of darkness. Rarer is the story where he must come to grips with something he can't explain, when his much vaunted intellect is vanquished by something too alien to be dealt with by mere humans. In a world of only rational numbers, the value of "pi" is insanity. I think only "The Horror of the many Faces" successfully pulls this off.

Not every one of these tales is about Sherlock Holmes. A few deal more or less exclusively with Dr. Watson, and one is even about Irene Adler. H.G. Wells makes a guest appearance, and "A Study in Emerald" has . . . well, the ending is too good to give any hints.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to agree with other reviews printed here. The book is something of a mixed bag. Few of the stories are well balanced quality pieces of professional writing. Their strengths and limitations differ.
Some of the stories show a paucity of knowledge about Lovecraft's work. In such stories, only a few of the most general references are made to the Lovecraftean canon. Otherwise the stories just suggest the pursuit of a "nightstalker" figure similar to a sort of Jack the Ripper. To justify the story's inclusion in this collection, the author tosses in a couple of Lovecraft's character names or place names such as "Cthulhu" or "Innsmouth" into the story. Nothing is ever done with these references, mind. That would require too much effort.
Some stories work pretty well because the writer has worked with the material before and knows it well. I think that Richard Lupoff's story "The Voorish Sign" is one of the book's best. But Lupoff has written and published other Sherlock Holmes pastiches over the years. He has a track record, so to speak.
Some of the most intriguing and most enjoyable stories set a Lovecraftian stage beautifully, drawing us in, getting us really eager to move on to the denouement. Unfortunately, it is as though the writer at this point does not know what to do with the situation he/she has established, and just . . . stops. Such is "The Mystery of the Worm" by John Pelan.
A series of biographic sketches appear at the end of the book, profiling the authors of the various stories. Here one sees quite a range of experience. Some of the writers have published a number of books and stories, and seem to have done their share of "weird tales.
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