There is something rather odd about author James Lovegrove’s writings in The Cthulhu Casebooks. In recent years he has written several ‘thematically’ similar books continuing the Great Detective’s adventures battling evil, but very much an Earth-bound evil. With his last three, the trilogy that comprise the Cthulhu Casebooks, Lovegrove has gone another way entirely, eschewing Holmes’ known dismissal of the supernatural by plunging him and Watson into a battle against Lovecraftian nightmares and The Elder Gods themselves. Less thematically similar as a complete re-write of the Sherlock Holmes narrative. And it sort of works. Sort of.
If you begin from a point of acceptance that Elder and Outer Gods exist, that supernatural phenomena are just a visible part of life, then you’ll be fine. If you assume that, it makes sense that in a world inhabited by Sherlock Holmes he would have knowledge of and have come up against such phenomena. And so that is the case here, as Holmes and Watson battle a Moriarty that has transformed into an Outer God known as R’luhlloig and gradually draw closer to ‘the final problem’.
Lovegrove for his part sets himself up as merely the editor of lost Watson-penned manuscripts which adds further to the slight blurring of lines between reality and unreality. The stories are neither overtly scary or frightening, although given the Lovecraftian connections there are horrors within these pages. But they are enjoyably suspenseful, with the mystery such as it is being played out with fervent, well-paced writing.
How much it works for the reader will depend largely on your loyalty to Conan Doyle’s original texts and your intrigue in the Lovecraftian connection. Allow your mind to wander and you may well enjoy this novel for the fun story it is.
THE CTHULHU CASEBOOKS - SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SUSSEX SEA-DEVILS / AUTHOR: JAMES LOVEGROVE / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW