If A Study In Brimstone was the introduction to Warlock Holmes, and The Hell-Hound Of The Baskervilles essentially his origin story, then My Grave Ritual brings the machinations of The Woman to the forefront. Not for G.S. Denning the consignment of Irene Adler to a single story. She is, instead, a constant, if elusive, presence throughout this book (tho she was, of course, introduced much earlier in ASiB.) Coincidentally, her significance becomes more pronounced at the same time that our hero Dr John Watson’s romantic inclinations do. I am already relishing a Mary Morstan-Irene Adler showdown in the upcoming Sign Of Nine. Assuming, of course, that Mary exists in this brilliant alternate telling of the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre, one that combines John Watson’s excellent deductive skills with Warlock Holmes’ supernatural powers while adding a heaping dose of humor in the process. I loled when the demon Covfefe showed up, not my first shout of laughter with this book and certainly not my last.
With the third book in the Warlock Holmes series, it becomes clear that Mr Denning isn’t merely writing a spoof: he is building a cohesive narrative with his adaptations, adding elements that run through each story to form an overarching plot that is far more interesting to me than the somewhat cold calculations and case-of-the-week nature of the originals. This is actually a departure, as I tend to prefer standalone works to epic series: kudos to Mr Denning for flipping that on its head for me! I’m also really impressed with how he sorted through the many short stories to pick out the ones best suited to his purpose, and am looking forward to seeing where he goes next, since it is very clear that he has a lot of exciting, intelligent plot in store for us, if these first three books have been anything to go by.
Interview with the author himself to follow soon!