Posted by Michael P. | Posted in Books | Posted on 06-08-2012
Tags: Arthur Conan Doyle, Guy Adams, Holmes, London, Moreau, Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes, Watson
First of all, I will start by saying this is a pretty loose review. That’s because I hate spoiling a book. And spoiling anything in a Sherlock Holmes novel seems twice as bad.
Secondly: It might not be for you. Playing with an iconic character is like playing with fire. Some handle it very carefully. With gloves they use the character to tell a story both befitting in content and in style that everyone associates with the character. Some chose to use the fire to re-mold the character or the world they are envisioned to be a part of. With that being said, I admit that I am normally not a fan of Sherlock Holmes novels. I usually want more from the characters than what the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did with them. To me they always felt as if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was just using them as an intellectual exercise of designing a mystery as intricate as possible. Only to then use Holmes as the only character capable enough to unravel it. All to show off both the mystery and Holmes’ amazing skills of deduction. Great characters, but in many ways the material of that era comes across as a bit dry. Understandably those that prefer their Sherlock Holmes written in that Victorian style will probably not like this book.
Ok, on to what I thought of the book: It was a grand adventure. Adams is clear about his goals in his “Medical Notes” section at the end of the book. And this section was both a refreshing and informative way for the author to explain that this book was not a rewriting of Conan Doyle’s Holmes and Watson. But rather, Adams aims for The Army of Dr. Moreau to entertain by telling a fast paced adventure with mad scientists, monsters, and many special guests.
Having not read his previous novel, Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God. I had no idea what type of book I was about to read. As already stated, Holmes can be an intimidating name to hear in a title. But, Adams deftly handles Holmes as more neurotic than simply eccentric. And Watson as one of the few people who can stand to be around him. Watson is also a great character here and his military exploits and bravery holds him in high regard with many characters that couldn’t care less that Holmes is even standing next to him. Adams using the character of Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s brother, as the leader of a relatively new covert agency for the government makes a lot of sense as well. This agency involvement lends credibility to Holmes and Watson’s involvement well beyond the cases typically seen in a Sherlock Holmes novel. These cases cross into areas where Holmes’ intellect is probably not enough. That in itself is great. Holmes is in need of others to complete his mission. In that respect, Adams does something very interesting. He borrows some other notable literary characters who would fit into the timeline. As this story revolves around the monsters created with the misguided science of Dr. Moreau, Adams brings in some of fictions great scientists to assist Holmes and Watson. Abner Perry from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core, Professor Challenger from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Professor Cavor from H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon, and Professor Lindenbrook from A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Vern. These characters add a vitality and color often missing from a Holmes novel as well as the sense of scope. These characters mixed with that of a secret agency imply adventure not only of London but with worldly implications that take Holmes and Watson quite a bit out of their element.
In conclusion: By doing all of these things, Adams has opened the door for larger and larger adventures which may entwine other iconic fictional characters. The specific story here is as fast paced and energetic as the recent films starring Robert Downy Jr. Holmes is a genius that would lose himself in his own mind if it wasn’t for being grounded by Watson’s humanity and friendship. And this tale is not a Calabash pipe tapping war of wits with an always present archenemy. It is an adventure with scientific heroes and monsters whose outcome would change much more than the city of London. Adams aims for you to have fun reading Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau. It is my opinion that without a doubt you will. Unless, of course, you are not a fan of where he has taken this character. If you don’t enjoy it, please remember how much easier it would have been for Adams to have Holmes and Watson to solve a murder or fight Professor Moriarty…again.
Now I’ll have to pick up Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God.
You can also check out Guy Adams’ site here: http://www.guyadamsauthor.com/