Book Review: Warlock Holmes (Book 2) – The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by G. S. Denning

Publisher:  Titan Books

Publication date:  16th May 2017

Never on this earthly plane would I have thought I could encounter what I have just experienced at 221B Baker Street.  But the game is afoot a hoot, and it is most satisfyingly odd.

As the great fictional detective is reduced to a rotting corpse with the ethereal ability to solve crime, a carnival of reinvented Conan Doyle short stories are combined to propel us toward a sorcerous crusade. Rather than provide a quick resolution to a problem, when Warlock Holmes’ unique talent manifests itself it generally makes matters much worse before they get better.

Unresponsive and ‘unofficially’ deceased Holmes is not causing any further trouble, other than reeking out his rooms. Watson is keen to conceal his friend’s demise for fear of eviction or conviction, as the bachelors are in arrears for their rent which is payable to Mrs Hudson. The distressed doctor goes to great lengths to mask the foul odour before she twigs, as Mrs Hudson appears to be channelling a cockney serving wench and would have absolutely no problem chasing her money as forcibly as any bailiff.

The deceitful dilemma has hilarious consequences for Watson and begs the questions: has Holmes suffered at the hand of one of his own experiments? Perhaps Moriarty finally got his revenge? Nope. The answer is a little closer to home.

Holmes ‘recuperates’ during the contorted serialised stories that follow and the bare bones from these five existing Sherlock escapades are cultivated into a brute of a crescendo, The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles.

I embraced this Sherlock surrealism and was overjoyed to see the Holmes and Watson bond live on, even if conventional attributes have stepped aside to make way for demonology, a herd of bearded men on tricycles, and a talking horse (no, it’s not Mr Ed). The only apparent constant to tackling these bands of irregular fiends and the seemingly immortal Moriarty is Doctor Watson’s solution to pretty much everything – his trusty Webley Revolver. 

Anyone with a flamboyant imagination and a pinch of eccentricity would enjoy this chorus of calamity without boundaries. We mere mortals can only observe at the awe that is, Warlock Holmes.

Note: This is the second book in the series starring ‘Warlock Holmes’. Although I have not read the first (A Study in Brimstone) it’s pretty obvious it didn’t affect my enjoyment of this title. 🙂

Rating:  4/5

(My gratitude to the publisher, Titan Books and Philippa Ward, for providing a copy of this title. It was my pleasure to read it and provide this unbiased review.)

The game’s afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty’s gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell-hound, one assumes.

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G.S. Denning was born in Seattle, Washington. He has published articles for games company Wizards of the Coast, worked as an editor, written a video-game script for Nintendo, and written and performed shows at the Epcot Center, Walt Disney World. With a background in improv, Gabe has performed with Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady, and he currently has a play running in Seattle. He now lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children.

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