The influences on the second volume in Vaughn Entwistle’s Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle series are as plain as day to anyone who has watched a horror film in the last 30 years. Though Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the protagonist (along with his good friend Oscar Wilde), it is essentially Sherlock Holmes meets Frankenstein (or The Terminator, if that’s more your speed). Fortunately, there are no obvious in-dialogue allusions (as that’s the sort of thing we can’t stand), but this doesn’t disguise the more serious issue that we have with the book.
Certain events make it very hard to take the novel seriously. We apologise for the spoilers but in this case we feel it’s justified. For instance, let us consider the eponymous dead assassin. For a start, there’s two or three of them. We’re willing to suspend our disbelief up to a point. But the book lost us around the point where Conan Doyle and Wilde come across the monstrosity again and are, for some reason, surprised to see that it is a man who was hanged. We would be fine with this except A) this is the third time this has happened, and B) they also saw this coming and took steps to prevent it. There’s no excuse.
One example not enough? Let us furnish you with another. A moment from this book is cribbed from The Princess Bride (another case of obvious influences), but in this case the reference makes no sense, as the person invoking the idea believes he’s functionally immortal anyway.
Then there’s the ending. A typical happy ending was in the cards. However, this was derailed in a clever and shocking way. Naturally any trace of innovation couldn’t last and so things were set back onto their natural course with a solution that broke our disbelief to boot. We probably won’t be reading this again, as the obvious flaws in logic make it one to lock back inside the tin dispatch box.
INFO: THE DEAD ASSASSIN: THE PARANORMAL CASEBOOKS OF SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE / AUTHOR: VAUGHN ENTWISTLE / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW