Supernatural Sherlock Holmes adventures from Christian Klaver
Posted February 11, 2015on:
where I got them: received free copies from the author (thanks Christian!)
I don’t often step outside my comfort zone. It might seem like I do, but I don’t. Sometimes I need a little nudge, and sometimes that nudge comes in the form of the right conversation at exactly the right moment. I met author Christian Klaver at Confusion, and came home with a few of his books. Two of them were skinny little novellas, I could read these in an afternoon, right? One had Count Dracula on the cover, the other made reference to Lovecraft. Sounds right up my alley, right? Not Quite. These are Klaver’s Supernatural Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I’m all for a smart thriller, and I’m all for anything Innsmouth, but Sherlock Holmes? Judge me as you will, I’ve never read any Sherlock Holmes. I couldn’t even get into the new TV show. Totally lame, right? Only way to fix it was to jump into some Holmes, and out of my comfort zone (why is this stuff outside my comfort zone? I actually have no idea).
Like many of the original Holmes novels (thanks Wikipedia!), The Adventure of the Solitary Grave and The Adventure of the Innsmouth Whaler are narrated by Dr. Watson. He’s telling these stories late in his life, after the death of Holmes. The two of them had agreed that these supernatural stories were far too unbelievable, but that after the death of the famous detective, the stories should be told. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, stodgy dry prose? Over-ornamented and boring dialog? Like something out of a play? Whatever it was that I expected, I got something completely different. I imagine that Klaver is a huge Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle fan, and modeled his Watson and Holmes off the originals. What’s important here is that I quickly came to enjoy Watson’s voice and story telling style. These two stories were easy to get into, and highly enjoyable to read.
If you are going to read these, you need to read them in order. Read The Adventure of the Solitary Grave first (I just realized I photographed the books in the wrong order), because there are two events that take place that color the rest of Watson’s life and make permanent changes to his professional habits. Of the two, my favorite was The Adventure of the Innsmouth Whaler. I’ve read my share of Lovecraft and Lovecraftian inspired fiction, and it was quite funny to hear Holmes guesses as to what was going on. He even tries to contact the authorities in Innsmouth and Arkham, and is puzzled by the useless responses. Even with his powers of deduction he can’t quite fathom what’s happening. Watson has the advantage here, as he’s more open to the idea of something beyond the understanding of man.
The mysteries and the plot twists were fun and satisfying, but what really made these stories for me was the characters (all you Holmes fans are collectively saying “duh” right about now, I’ll bet!). Holmes’s cold logic borders on heartless, rarely noticing when Watson either solves everything for them, or makes a joke at the detective’s expense. Watson is quiet and reserved, smarter than he lets on, loyal to Holmes, but hoping to avoid dangerous situations. The two of them sometimes banter, sometimes communicate wordlessly, and often reference (so far) unpublished cases and mysteries they have solved. I absolutely adored Watson’s narrative voice. I can’t vouch for anything due to my lack of experience with the original material, but many of the online reviews for Klaver’s work speak to his getting Watson and Holmes’s voices and attitudes just right, and giving the standard Holmes mystery a supernatural twist that blends right in with the original material.
Lots of good has come out of me reading these: I’ve ventured out of my comfort zone and survived the tell the tale! I’ll be reading more of Christian Klaver’s work, such as Shadows Over London. And I might even pick up some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes!