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Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes Paperback – Oct 1 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Edge; First Edition edition (Oct. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894063171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894063173
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #404,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Jeff Campbell's fiction has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Spinetingler Magazine, Wax Romantic and Challenging Destiny. From time to time his writing can also be heard on radio's Imagination Theater and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In addition to writing, he has co-edited the Sherlock Holmes anthologies Curious Incidents 1 and 2 with his good friend Charles Prepolec.

Charles Prepolec has contributed articles and reviews to All Hallows, Sherlock Magazine, Scarlet Street, and Canadian Holmes. An active Sherlockian for more than 20 years with Calgary's The Singular Society of the Baker Street Dozen, he was designated a Master Bootmaker in 2006 by the Canada's national Sherlock Holmes Society.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
What happens when you place Holmes and Watson into fantastic, surreal, Lovecraft-like scenarios? This is the premise of this eleven story collection. The first is "The Lost Boy" which imaginatively pairs Holmes and Peter Pan. It was a bit jarring but set the stage for the other tales. "His Last Arrow" focuses on Watson which has become a generally accepted convention in the genre. "Sherlock Holmes in the Lost World" was more of a comic book but fun as it takes Holmes to the "Lost World". Some hit the mark and others miss like"Red Sunset" which has a hundred year old Holmes in a L.A. potboiler. Still fun for fans but not for newcomers to Holmes who should read the originals first.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 12 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ghosts May Apply! Nov. 11 2008
By Philip K. Jones - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of Sherlockian tales in which, to quote David Stuart Davies' Forward, "Ghosts may apply." Each of the tales involves some `supernatural' element, a Djinn, a Vampire, a painting, quite a variety of individuals and items. In fact, Chico Kidd and Rick Kennett's "The Grantchester Grimoire" is only the second pastiche I know of that pairs Holmes and Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost Finder in a single tale. Further, each tale is written by one who knows Holmes and Watson intimately, which makes them disturbing at the very least.

The stage is set by the opening tale, "The Lost Boy," by Barbara Hambly. When the Darling children disappear, Mr. Darling consults Sherlock Holmes and Mrs. Darling goes to an old friend who, like her, knew Peter Pan from her youth. At the end of this sad and lovely story, one is left wondering who, exactly, was "The Lost Boy" of the title.

Each of the tales has its own context and viewpoint. Nothing carries across from one to the next except the certainty that things will be not quite what they seem. The sheer nastiness of the villain in Christopher Sequeira's "His Last Arrow" is balanced by the delight of an aged Holmes in his (2nd?) meeting with Count Dracula in Bob Madison's "Red Sunset." Martin Powell's "Sherlock Holmes in the Lost World" gives new meaning to `Non-stop Adventure' with a surprise villain thrown in as an extra. Strictly speaking, Chris Roberson's "Merridew of Abominable Memory' has no supernatural element, but it is a true horror story and it fits right in with the rest of the collection.

As is true with most anthologies, some tales appeal to one taste and some to another. This group seems well mixed, with a variety of approaches and themes. I have mostly commented on those stories that appealed to me. There was, however, one perfectly marvelous tale by Kim Newman called "The Red Planet League" that deserves special attention. It is told by "...your humble narrator - Colonel Sebastian `Basher' Moran ..." and it is worth the reading if only for the delicious villainies of `Basher.' Of the eleven tales included, all are worth reading and several will stand up to re-reading. The only bad feature I found was the quality of the binding on my copy, which seems to induce cover curl.

Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, October, 2008.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing March 11 2009
By S. Potter - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are eleven stories in this "grimoire"; stories where Holmes encounters crimes and/or events beyond the usual scope of the rational detective. Some are good, some are not. Many have little to do with classic Holmsian approaches.

The first story is "The Lost Boy". A combination of Holmes, Peter Pan, and a dash of H.P. Lovecraft. As a story it is "neither fish, nor fowl". It lacks the childishness of Peter Pan, the deductive trill of Holmes, and the terror of old HPL. The adventure is good, but Holmes attracting fairies?

Next is "His Last Arrow". This is a Watson driven story, and pretty good. But, again, the situation is not so much Sherlock Holmes as it is an alternate fantastic view of the detective. In other words, this is not a story about the great detective so much as a fantasy tale. It's still pretty good, and the ending is a surprise.

Now "The Things that Shall Come Upon Them" is a good story. With conflicting views as to weather there is a mechanistic vs. spiritual answer to the problem in on hold past the end of the story. Are they being haunted? Or are they being burgled? This one is good.

"The Finishing Stroke" is an inventive way to use the old "artist as mystic" trope. I liked it a great deal as a story. A pity the art at the start of the story kind of gave away the plot.

"Sherlock Holmes in the Lost World" isn't particularly good. A rehash of the "Lost World" dinosaur's plateau story with Holmes in it. Not much to recommend, either as a story or a Holmes pastiche.

Next is "The Grantchester Grimoire". I liked this one a lot. Again, the art at the start gave too much away, but it was a good, classic gothic tale, where the Detective was doing what we expect him to do. Missing evil books and ghosts at the windows lead to certain dark ends.

When I got to "The Steamship Friesland", I became a bit disgusted. This is not to do with deduction, but just having a ghost tell Holmes what was going on. Seriously, where's the Holmes connection, aside from the fact he's the one the ghost talks to?

"The Entwined" is a tough call. The girl confessing to murders she could not have possible done, but holding certain knowledge of them is a good plot line. The idea is good, but it's more HPL (as in you don't need a great deal of deductive ability) than it is Holmes.

"Merridew of Abominable Memory" takes place with Watson in a respite home, retelling a story of his former days with Holmes to the Doctor. Again, this is not so much a Sherlock Holmes story as it is a glimpse into horror. Holmes does play his usual role, but the point of the story is more about why Watson is hating his memories than the deductions of Holmes.

And then there's "Red Sunset". Holmes, at 100+, in a gangster 1940's situation. Need I say more? And there are vampires. And it's Dracula. And even with these spoilers, you couldn't appreciate the story less than if you read it cold.

The last, "The Red Planet League", is an interesting one. Holmes isn't in it. It's about a rather convoluted plan of Moriarty's (chronicled by Col. Moran) to get back at a fellow astronomer who has disputed his great book on asteroids. It's a good story, and a fantastic plot. It's a sort of anti-Holmes, showing all the meticulateness of a serious plan, just to be done for evil. I thought it rather clever, over all.

The collection as a whole disappointed, but some of the stories are certainly worth reading, if you can get them separate from the rest.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Holmes fix Feb. 23 2009
By Winter - Published on
Format: Paperback
I love Barbara Hambly's work as a writer, and this book was worth it just for her story. As a collection it gave me my Holmes fix, and I will definitely read it again. And probably several more times after that. I'd say it was a good, solid B+ or A- level Holmes read - close, but stumbling occasionally into too obvious-ness.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"It's been good to have an adventure with you. . . . They never let girls." --Mary Watson July 25 2009
By Found Highways - Published on
Format: Paperback
I bought this book in Toronto because it had a Kim Newman story ("The Red Planet League") I hadn't seen before. I'll buy any Kim Newman story I see.

Like all of Newman's work, this story is entertaining, with allusions to classic Victorian science fiction and fantasy and 1950s Hollywood versions of it. It doesn't have the social criticism of Newman's best work (for instance the Zorro-werewolf story "Out of the Night, When the Full Moon is Bright" in The Mammoth Book of Werewolves (The Mammoth Book Series), or any of his stories about the Flower Power Antichrist Derek Leech, such as "Another Fish Story" in The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club), but the story does have the original idea of Professor Moriarty as hero with his criminal compatriot Colonel Moran as his biographer, à la Doctor Watson.

Several stories in Gaslight Grimoire have Holmes and Watson interacting with other heroes of their time, like Hesketh Pritchard's Flaxman Low and William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost Finder.

My favorite story in this collection is Barbara Hambly's "The Lost Boy," which has a different Watson as narrator, and shows Holmes responding emotionally to a woman in a way that's consistent with the misogyny of the Conan Doyle stories. At the end of this story I felt sorry for two characters--three if you count the boy who never grew up.

The ending of the second story in the book, Christopher Sequeira's "His Last Arrow," completely surprised me. If you've ever wondered why Holmes can solve mysteries that are incomprehensible to everyone else, the answer is here.

"The Finishing Stroke" by M. J. Elliott will appeal to anyone who, like me, is fascinated by the various versions of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. (ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS: If that includes you, you should read Will Self's novel Dorian: An Imitation and see the movie Pact With the Devil starring Malcolm McDowell.)

All the stories in Gaslight Grimoire are enjoyable at the very least, and the book reminds me of what Oscar Wilde said: I can believe anything as long as it's truly incredible.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Occult fiction fans will love this book Aug. 19 2009
By Paul Lappen - Published on
Format: Paperback
Even though Arthur Conan Doyle was a well-known occult writer, he had to keep Sherlock Holmes, his most famous creation, grounded in reality. Doyle couldn't weaken his popularity by giving Holmes a number of occult and fantastic cases to solve. This book takes care of that.

Watson was severely injured, and should have died, while serving with the British Army in Afghanistan. but there seems a cost to Watson from that dark time in his life, and this intersects with the role of a strange Afghani man named Farakhan many years later when Holmes and Watson work a case; a case of what looks like suicide by crossbow. The story ends with a weird and mystical twist.

During World War II, Holmes is in a California nursing home. The damage to British morale would be too severe if he should be killed by the Nazis. Holmes helps a local detective discover how a man can be shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the head, and walk away. It has to do with the importation of fifty pine boxes from Romania, filled with vampires willing to work for the Allies.

In other stories, Holmes and Watson meet up with two famous literary occult detectives, Flaxman Low and Thomas Carnacki. Holmes is very much of a realist; no matter how weird and occult things may seem, there is usually a rational explanation. But he does not totally dismiss un-rational explanations.

I really enjoyed these stories. They are well done, and they are nice and weird without being too weird. Holmes fans will love this book, and so will occult fiction fans.