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PrintE-mail Written by Scott Varnham Thursday, 02 August 2012

Book Reviews

Sherlock Homles - The Army of Doctor Moreau Review

Book Review: Sherlock Holmes - The Army of Doctor Moreau / Author: Guy Adams / Publisher: Titan Books / Release Date: August 24th

It’s funny how life is sometimes. Starburst was the first magazine to feature a review of one of Guy Adams’ books back in the day, and now we’re covering his latest work, The Army of Doctor Moreau.

As aficionados of Victorian literature may have guessed from the name, the latest offering from Adams draws on H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau for inspiration and world-building and plonks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the middle of it all. The story concerns a potential return of Doctor Moreau to the streets of London, and this time he’s bringing hybrid-creatures with him. But is he actually back? That’s the question that troubles our heroes for a good portion of the novel.

Joining them on this adventure is a crack squad of scientists and big game hunters picked by Sherlock’s living sofa of a brother Mycroft. Professor's Cavor, Challenger and Lindenbrook (rather than Lidenbrock; Adams is using a different translation of Jules Verne’s original French text to get his name) form the scientist part of the equation; while some characters from the Holmes canon make an appearance (namely Shinwell Johnson and Wiggins, their page-boy) and finally, big game hunter Carruthers comes from Adams’ series of original novels to complete the party.

Mercifully, all those characters are in there for a reason – they all have a part to play and we get to see events from the perspective of about 90% of them in little snippets (indeed, a humorous few statements from Mycroft serve as an ending to the book). This does lead to some overlap in the events that we see, lines that are repeated but that’s to be expected – it ensures that the reader doesn’t lose track of the characters.

Considering that it has 284 pages, it’s amazing how quickly that flies by. It’s not the longest book in the world (that honour belongs to Twilight when you’re forced to read it) but it still dips into the moral questions that must’ve plagued the scientists of the 19th century and anything that does that is well worth a read.

It’s not the best pastiche around but Adams is a natural fit for the world of Sherlock Holmes. He creates interesting stories with well-developed characters and brings a subtle sense of humour to the work (one line in particular was genius and fit the character of Holmes rather well). We can but hope that he gets the chance to visit the streets of Victorian London again, at least once more. One thing that Adams wanted to accomplish with these books is to have them read like novels of the time, and he has certainly succeeded in that.

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