November 2012

Guy Adams - Sherlock Holmes: The Army of Dr. Moreau

"...I found that the overall style put pictures in my head in a way that was reminiscent of ‘steampunk’."

After a referral via Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock and Dr. Watson follow the trail of several corpses seemingly killed by various wild animals, but which they know are likely to be some experiments of Doctor Moreau, who had once been creating animal hybrids through vivisection and crude genetic engineering. He was determined to prove the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, until his experiments came to the public eye and, shamed, he disappeared.

Now there is evidence he is back and Holmes and Watson track down suspects through the opium dens of Rotherhithe and the docks. Here they find an army of beast men, led by a man willing to make the world pay attention using his creatures as a force to gain control of the Government.

'The Army of Doctor Moreau' is not a traditional Homes story, nor does it really set out to be, although it does follow the basis of Conan-Doyle's books. It has been a while since I actually read one of the originals and so I am not fully sure how much of the original style was there, especially as I had the voice of Jeremy Brett for Holmes and Martin Freeman for Watson stuck in my head throughout. An unlikely and unusual combination that actually gave a snarky humour to the story, which in itself was quite different from anything you would expect of a Holmes novel.

This is actually a supernatural tale that also pulls in characters belonging to HG Wells, Edgar Rice Burrows and others from Conan Doyle's work and doesn't pretend to be anything other that what it is; fantasy with a taste of Holmes and a certain amount of tongue in cheek. For that reason I suspect those who are purists when it comes to Holmes will throw up their hands in horror, but I enjoyed it.

The pace is good and the plot is easily followed through the varying twists and turns. Characters are well written (albeit not perhaps in the traditional style expected) and I found that the overall style put pictures in my head in a way that was reminiscent of 'steampunk'. This will not be for everyone, but if you like the supernatural with some black humour, this is a fun read.

Reviewed by: K.L.

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