Oct 22 2019

Sherlock Holmes And The Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove

I’m conceding defeat and I’m not even sure whom to. See, despite being an ardent mystery fan since a wee girl, I’ve been lukewarm at most to the Sherlock Holmes canon, and have had very little interest in reading the Sherlockiana that has spawned since. Not even Neil Gaiman’s brilliant A Study In Emerald could draw me in, and I waved off my delight in G. S. Denning’s Warlock Holmes series as being of a similar exception, given the overtly supernatural element common to both. Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse’s Mycroft & Sherlock books were also, I rationalized, exceptions since they focused on the deeds of Sherlock’s siblings, and not on the tiresome detective and his sentimental companion themselves. Not even my appreciation for the most recent adaptations of Sherlock on the screen — whether they be Guy Richie’s movies, the Beeb’s episodes or the excellent Elementary — could sway me.

So I’m not sure why I said yes when the magnificent Polly Grice over at Titan Books offered me a copy of James Lovegrove’s Sherlock Holmes And The Christmas Demon. Perhaps it was because of all the other Titan-published Sherlock-adjacent books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps it was because I absolutely adored what James Lovegrove did with his recent Firefly novels. Regardless, reader, I trusted the sources enough to finally say yes.

There was always the chance, of course, that I’d find this novel tiresome in the same ways I find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works tedious. All the hallmarks of the original Sherlock stories are still present here in this gorgeously bound volume but Mr Lovegrove’s deftness of touch makes it so that I don’t find the relationship between the main characters irritating, and that I’m not wildly annoyed by the “exotic” touches to the story (just thinking of The Speckled Band still makes me incredibly grouchy.) While this wasn’t a difficult mystery to solve — tho some of the clues were quite ingenious — it held together better for me than a lot of the original canon, and was so entertaining as to completely batter down my resistance to new material. Plus, I do love a Victorian Christmas! Perhaps I would have been grumpier if this book had come out after Halloween, as I’m always aggrieved at retailers ignoring Thanksgiving due to profit margins being better on the bracketing holidays, but with the weather turning and the supernatural bent to this Christmas tale, it felt like perfect timing. I can’t imagine a cozier new book for fans of classic mysteries to curl up with as winter looms, and sincerely hope this book finds its way into many a mystery-lover’s stocking as Yuletide approaches. It has certainly given me the gift of appreciation for new Sherlockiana, and for that I am thankful.

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