Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec

Gaslight Grotesque is a fantastic collection of macabre stories that follow the infamous Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend Dr. Watson. Thirteen writers take up where the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left off with tales that deliver both new mysteries for the pair to unravel and the retelling of classics with their own horrific versions of what really happened. Old friends and enemies are brought together once again in some very horrifying stories that will make you rethink your opinions of both Holmes and Watson as some of their most famous cases are revisited.

Hounded by Stephen Volk finds Dr. Watson looking for answers from his friend from beyond the grave as he attends a seance. The spectre that greets him is not his friend, however, but something that reminds him of their most famous case and the possible sins that they committed while dealing with the true hell they had faced in Baskerville long ago.

Of The Origin of The Hound of the Baskervilles by Barbara Roden also touches on the same story but delves into more of the possibilities of a true shifter being the cause for all the turmoil in not only the lives of the Baskervilles themselves but the repercussions they face in their own lives.

The Death Lantern by Lawrence C Connolly gives the men a different view of a crime as an apparent accident is captured by a famous illusionist on his new contraption. The use of this early “camera” gives them the opportunity to review it and deduce the true crime committed, but with the delicate nature of their evidence they may have to find another way to reveal the true criminal.

The duo is once again in deep as they try to save a young violinist and his mother from an evil cult that is using innocents and technology in occult dealings in The Tragic Case of the Child Prodigy by William Patrick Maynard.

Mr. Other’s Children is a chilling tale by J. R. Campbell that deals with a bizarre and macabre creature looking for a fertile ground to bring his children to life. The guilt Inspector Bradstreet feels over his indiscretions with an informant has him prepared to disappear when he sees something truly horrific in the rented room, but with Holmes’ and Watson’s help he might have a second chance.

Exalted are the Forces of Darkness by Leigh Blackmore brings us a deceptive tale of the infamous Mr. Crowley and a group of believers in The Golden Dawn. A typical whodunit gives us a handful of suspects when Sherlock and Watson are brought in on a case where a young woman was left dead on the street just before she was to come into her inheritance, and the murderer did not leave a pretty corpse to be found.

Simon Kurt Unsworth reveals The Hand-Delivered Letter and its threat to not only Holmes and Watson but the entire city and beyond. The criminal and twisted mind of Dr. Moriarty is exposed in this opus to his nemesis, Holmes, that reveals his accomplishments in not only bringing back to life an army of corpses but training them to do his bidding, which includes delivering this memo to the hands of the great Sherlock Holmes himself.

The Quality of Mercy by William Meikle takes the duo to revisit an old army buddy as he tries to communicate with his beloved Jeannie who has passed on. The Seekers of Light and their mysterious temple bring Captain McKay a way to contact his love, but when Holmes and Watson decide to prove it is all smoke and mirrors their efforts give way to just the opposite.

Emily’s Kiss by James A. Moore tells a tale of a well-to-do family that has more than a few skeletons or rather, monsters, in its closet. When a young girl is kidnapped, Holmes and Watson are called in to find her but instead reveal a family that has a secret more twisted and debauched than even the two sleuths could imagine.

The Last Windigo by Hayden Trenholm sees the pair on a trip to Canada, taking a train ride across the country only to find a mystery to deal with along the way. The native folklore tale of the Windigo gives birth to the superstitions and ultimately the birth of a creature bound to the land to keep the truly evil from taking over the land.

Celeste by Neil Jackson is a ghostly tale that begins in a small fishing village which leads the pair to investigate the unsolved mystery of the ship the Mary Celeste by request of His Royal Highness, Prince George. The mysterious disappearances of its occupants over the years is the focus as the duo dive into the various natural and unnatural possibilities that surround the death ship.

The Best Laid Plans by Robert Lauderdale has Inspector Lestrade in the forfront of this tale as he is baffled in his investigation of how Moriarty escaped the mass arrests set up for him leaving them with a bizarre underworld filled with horrific creatures that cling to him and invade his mind while the evil mastermind concludes his plan for the great detective.

The Affair of the Heart by Mark Morris is a brilliant paradox that the men must decipher to save themselves from their ultimate demise. When a macabre package is delivered to 221B Baker St., the contents are found to be very near and dear to Holmes’ heart, and very important in unraveling the mystery.

A forward by Leslie S. Klinger recounts the early beginnings of horror and mystery fiction from its earliest recorded passages to the current popularity in fiction today. A very informative introduction is included by co-editor Charles V. Prepolec on the tales of Sherlock Holmes.

This compilation is a very interesting look at the various forms of horror writing today. The binding thread of the book being the subject matter of the great Sherlock Holmes and his cohorts in crime-solving leaves many avenues for the various authors to pursue as their personal choices lead way to a very diverse group of tales.

I must say that I am not a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. I read maybe one or two books a very long time ago, and was skeptical as to how much I would find enjoyable in this offering. I was also leery of a book that was in its basis a form of fanfiction, because many that I have taken the time to read before were found extremely lacking from the original. I found that I had nothing to worry about because the diverse story lines and the quick pace of their tales were very entertaining and exciting. My favorites would have to include “The Hand-Delivered Letter,” “The Affair of the Heart,” “Emily’s Kiss” and “Exalted Are the Forces of Darkness.” I would recommend this book to any fan of the men found most often at 221B Baker St., as well as fans of the horror genre.

Book Stats:

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing; 1 edition (October 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894063317
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894063319
  • To purchase a print copy of Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes from Amazon click here.

    To purchase a print copy of Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes from Barnes & Noble click here.

Gaslight Grotesque is a fantastic collection of macabre stories that follow the infamous Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend Dr. Watson. Thirteen writers take up where the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle left off with tales that deliver both new mysteries for the pair to unravel and the retelling of classics with their own horrific …

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