For nearly as long, the macabre tales of H. P. Lovecraft have haunted readers with their nightmarish glimpses into realms of cosmic chaos and undying evil. But what would happen if Conan Doyle’s peerless detective and his allies were to find themselves faced with mysteries whose solutions lay not only beyond the grasp of logic, but of sanity itself.
In this collection of all-new, all-original tales, twenty of today’s most cutting edge writers provide their answers to that burning question.
“A Study in Emerald” by Neil Gaiman: A gruesome murder exposes a plot against the Crown, a seditious conspiracy so cunningly wrought that only one man in all London could have planned it–and only one man can hope to stop it.
“A Case of Royal Blood” by Steven-Elliot Altman: Sherlock Holmes and H. G. Wells join forces to protect a princess stalked by a ghost–or perhaps something far worse than a ghost.
“Art in the Blood” by Brian Stableford: One man’s horrific affliction leads Sherlock Holmes to an ancient curse that threatens to awaken the crawling chaos slumbering in the blood of all humankind.
“The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone” by Poppy Z. Brite and David Ferguson: A girl who has not eaten in more than three years teaches Holmes and Watson that sometimes the impossible cannot be eliminated.
“The Horror of the Many Faces” by Tim Lebbon: Dr. Watson witnesses a maniacal murder in London–and recognizes the villain as none other than his friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
With these and fourteen other dark tales of madness, horror, and deduction, a new and terrible game is afoot.
The terrifyingly surreal universe of horror master H. P. Lovecraft bleeds into the logical world of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s champion of rational deduction–in these brand-new stories by twenty of today’s top horror, mystery, fantasy, and science fiction writers, including:
• Steven-Elliot Altman
• Elizabeth Bear
• Poppy Z. Brite
• Simon Clark
• David Ferguson
• Paul Finch
• Neil Gaiman
• Barbara Hambly
• Caitlin R. Kiernan
• Tim Lebbon
• James Lowder
• Richard A. Lupoff
• F. Gwynplaine McIntyre
• John Pelan
• Steve Perry
• Michael Reaves
• Brian Stableford
• John P. Vourlis
• David Niall Wilson & Patricia Lee Macomber
From the Hardcover edition.
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About the Author
John Pelan is an acclaimed author whose fiction includes the Lovecraftian novella The Colour out of Darkness. He is the editor of such groundbreaking anthologies as Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium, The Devil Is Not Mocked, and The Last Continent: New Tales of Zothique. His solo stories have appeared in publications such as The Urbanite, Gothic.net, Enigmatic Tales, and Carpe Noctem. He is the founder of the publishing house Darkside Press, and cofounder of Midnight House. He lives in Seattle.
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
A Study in Emerald, by Neil Gaiman
1. THE NEW FRIEND
Fresh from Their Stupendous European Tour, where they performed before several of the CROWNED HEADS OF EUROPE, garnering their plaudits and praise with magnificent dramatic performances, combining both COMEDY and TRAGEDY, the Strand Players wish to make it known that they shall be appearing at the Royal Court Theatre, Drury Lane, for a LIMITED ENGAGEMENT in April, at which they will present “My Look-Alike Brother Tom!” “The Littlest Violet-Seller” and “The Great Old Ones Come” (this last an Historical Epic of Pageantry and Delight); each an entire play in one act! Tickets are available now from the Box Office.
It is the immensity, I believe. The hugeness of things below. The darkness of dreams.
But I am wool-gathering. Forgive me. I am not a literary man.
I had been in need of lodgings. That was how I met him. I wanted someone to share the cost of rooms with me. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance, in the chemical laboratories of St. Bart’s. “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive”; that was what he said to me, and my mouth fell open and my eyes opened very wide.
“Astonishing,” I said.
“Not really,” said the stranger in the white lab coat who was to become my friend. “From the way you hold your arm, I see you have been wounded, and in a particular way. You have a deep tan. You also have a military bearing, and there are few enough places in the Empire that a military man can be both tanned and, given the nature of the injury to your shoulder and the traditions of the Afghan cave folk, tortured.”
Put like that, of course, it was absurdly simple. But then, it always was. I had been tanned nut brown. And I had indeed, as he had observed, been tortured.
The gods and men of Afghanistan were savages, unwilling to be ruled from Whitehall or from Berlin or even from Moscow, and unprepared to see reason. I had been sent into those hills, attached to the ––th Regiment. As long as the fighting remained in the hills and mountains, we fought on an equal footing. When the skirmishes descended into the caves and the darkness, then we found ourselves, as it were, out of our depth and in over our heads.
I shall not forget the mirrored surface of the underground lake, nor the thing that emerged from the lake, its eyes opening and closing, and the singing whispers that accompanied it as it rose, wreathing their way about it like the buzzing of flies bigger than worlds.
That I survived was a miracle, but survive I did, and I returned to England with my nerves in shreds and tatters. The place that leechlike mouth had touched me was tattooed forever, frog white, into the skin of my now-withered shoulder. I had once been a crack shot. Now I had nothing, save a fear of the world-beneath-the-world akin to panic, which meant that I would gladly pay sixpence of my army pension for a hansom cab rather than a penny to travel underground.
Still, the fogs and darknesses of London comforted me, took me in. I had lost my first lodgings because I screamed in the night. I had been in Afghanistan; I was there no longer.
“I scream in the night,” I told him.
“I have been told that I snore,” he said. “Also I keep irregular hours, and I often use the mantelpiece for target practice. I will need the sitting room to meet clients. I am selfish, private, and easily bored. Will this be a problem?”
I smiled and shook my head and extended my hand. We shook on it.
The rooms he had found for us, in Baker Street, were more than adequate for two bachelors. I bore in mind all my friend had said about his desire for privacy, and I forbore from asking what it was he did for a living. Still, there was much to pique my curiosity. Visitors would arrive at all hours, and when they did I would leave the sitting room and repair to my bedroom, pondering what they could have in common with my friend: the pale woman with one eye bone white, the small man who looked like a commercial traveler, the portly dandy in his velvet jacket, and the rest. Some were frequent visitors; many others came only once, spoke to him, and left, looking troubled or looking satisfied.
He was a mystery to me.
We were partaking of one of our landlady’s magnificent breakfasts one morning when my friend rang the bell to summon that good lady. “There will be a gentleman joining us, in about four minutes,” he said. “We will need another place at table.”
“Very good,” she said, “I’ll put more sausages under the grill.”
My friend returned to perusing his morning paper. I waited for an explanation with growing impatience. Finally, I could stand it no longer. “I don’t understand. How could you know that in four minutes we would be receiving a visitor? There was no telegram, no message of any kind.”
He smiled thinly. “You did not hear the clatter of a brougham several minutes ago? It slowed as it passed us—obviously as the driver identified our door—then it sped up and went past, up into the Marylebone Road. There is a crush of carriages and taxicabs letting off passengers at the railway station and at the waxworks, and it is in that crush that anyone wishing to alight without being observed will go. The walk from there to here is but four minutes . . .”
He glanced at his pocket watch, and as he did so I heard a tread on the stairs outside.
“Come in, Lestrade,” he called. “The door is ajar, and your sausages are just coming out from under the grill.”
A man I took to be Lestrade opened the door, then closed it carefully behind him. “I should not,” he said. “But truth to tell, I have not had a chance to break my fast this morning. And I could certainly do justice to a few of those sausages.” He was the small man I had observed on several occasions previously, whose demeanor was that of a traveler in rubber novelties or pat- ent nostrums.
My friend waited until our landlady had left the room before he said, “Obviously, I take it this is a matter of national importance.”
“My stars,” said Lestrade, and he paled. “Surely the word cannot be out already. Tell me it is not.” He began to pile his plate high with sausages, kipper fillets, kedgeree, and toast, but his hands shook a little.
“Of course not,” said my friend. “I know the squeak of your brougham wheels, though, after all this time: an oscillating G-sharp above high C. And if Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard cannot publicly be seen to come into the parlor of London’ s only consulting detective, yet comes anyway, and without having had his breakfast, then I know that this is not a routine case. Ergo, it involves those above us and is a matter of national importance.”
Lestrade dabbed egg yolk from his chin with his napkin. I stared at him. He did not look like my idea of a police inspector, but then, my friend looked little enough like my idea of a consulting detective—whatever that might be.
“Perhaps we should discuss the matter privately,” Lestrade said, glancing at me.
My friend began to smile impishly, and his head moved on his shoulders as it did when he was enjoying a private joke. “Nonsense,” he said. “Two heads are better than one. And what is said to one of us is said to us both.”
“If I am intruding—” I said gruffly, but he motioned me to silence.
Lestrade shrugged. “It’s all the same to me,” he said, after a moment. “If you solve the case, then I have my job. If you don’t, then I have no job. You use your methods, that’s what I say. It can’ t make things any worse.”
“If there’s one thing that a study of history has taught us, it is that things can always get worse,” said my friend. “When do we go to Shoreditch?”
Lestrade dropped his fork. “This is too bad!” he exclaimed. “Here you are, making sport of me, when you know all about the matter! You should be ashamed—”
“No one has told me anything of the matter. When a police inspector walks into my room with fresh splashes of mud of that peculiar yellow hue on his boots and trouser legs, I can surely be forgiven for presuming that he has recently walked past the diggings at Hobbs Lane in Shoreditch, which is the only place in London that particular mustard-colored clay seems to be found.”
Inspector Lestrade looked embarrassed. “Now you put it like that,” he said, “it seems so obvious.”
My friend pushed his plate away from him. “Of course it does,” he said, slightly testily.
We rode to the East End in a cab. Inspector Lestrade had walked up to the Marylebone Road to find his brougham, and left us alone.
“So you are truly a consulting detective?” I said.
“The only one in London, or perhaps the world,” said my friend. “I do not take cases. Instead, I consult. Others bring me their insoluble problems, they describe them, and, sometimes, I solve them.”
“Then those people who come to you . . .”
“Are, in the main, police officers, or are detectives themselves, yes.”
It was a fine morning, but we were now jolting about the edges of the Rookery of St. Giles, that warren of thieves and cutthroats which sits on London like a cancer on the face of a pretty flower seller, and the only light to enter the cab was dim and faint.
“Are you sure that you wish me along with you?”
In reply, my friend stared at me without blinking. “I have a feeling,” he said. “I have a feeling that we were meant to be together. That we have fought the good fight, side by side, in the past or in the future, I do not know. I am a rational man, but I have learned the value of a good companion, and from the moment I clapped eyes on you, I knew I trusted you as well as I do myself. Yes. I want you with me.”
I blushed, or said something meaningless. For the first time since Afghanistan, I felt that I had worth in the world.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a book that is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. For the most part, the stories in this volume range from mediocre to slightly amusing (including Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald"). The authors explore the intersection of the Doyle and Lovecraft universes without fully realizing the potential of either. However, each story lends something to the greater aura of the volume - the extremely interesting idea of Holmes and Watson investigating the Lovecraft mythos. While many of the individual stories fall flat, I can't help but hope that someone else picks up the ball and runs with this idea. The short length of the stories left me wanting more detail and plot than fits on a few pages, so I hope that someone comes along and addresses this shortcoming with a solid novella-length work that does both writers justice.
Sherlock Holmes meets Cthulhu! Not really, but that might be a subtitle to grab the attention of readers who enjoy both Sherlock Holmes pastiches and those stories that follow the tradition of HP Lovecraft in the mythos. A very fun book, but as always, when you have an anthology of stories to read, there are some that will be really good, some that will be okay, and some that you read just because they're in the collection. Funny thing, though, everyone who reads this book is going to like something different. Among my favorites are 1) A study in emerald, by Neil Gaiman (yes, THAT Neil Gaiman) in which history is a bit twisted around; 2) A Case of Royal Blood by Steven-Elliot Altman, in which Holmes and Watson team up with HG Wells to solve a strange mystery of a poltergeist at the Dutch court; 3) The Curious Case of Miss Violet Stone, by Poppy Z. Brite, in which our heroes must solve a mystery of a young woman who has not eaten for three years but manages to stay alive; 4) The Adventure of the Antiquarian's Niece by Barbara Hambly in which Holmes and Watson enlist the help of Carnaki the Ghost Finder to get to the bottom of evil doings at an isolated chateau; 5) The Adventure of the Arab's Manuscript, by Michael Reaves which features the Necronomonicon; 6) A Case of Insomnia, by John P. Vourlis, in which Holmes and Watson try to solve the mystery of why everyone in a certain English town has not slept since the last lunar eclipse, 7) The Adventure of the Voorish Sign by Richard Lupoff in which Holmes & Watson travel to a manor called Anthracite Hall to find a woman's lost brother and 8) The Adventure of Exham Priory, by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, where we meet up once again with Professor Moriarty.I would love to see a Volume II put into print. I will say that if you have not read the basic HPL stories concerning Innsmouth, Cthulhu and the Necronomicon, you may be lost; there isn't a whole lot of explanation here and the authors seem to take it on faith that you know what they're talking about. Overall, a very fun collection to spend a few hours with -- the reading goes really quickly. Highly recommended.
Every time this reviewer concludes that there is no way to place Holmes who¿s been around in so many different clever settings in the past few decades a new approach occurs. SHADOWS OVER BAKER STREET takes Holmes out of Doyle¿s Victorian England and relocates him in H.P. Lovecraft¿s Victorian England. Seventeen tales are set in the last two decades of the nineteenth century while three occur in the twentieth. The premise of changing the setting of the world¿s greatest detective works, providing the Baker Street crowd with a strong invigorating anthology. However, besides the obvious uniqueness of the background, the collection also takes a wider look at Holmes by including renowned authors from non-mystery genres along with the who-done-it writers. Thus, twenty tales from horror, science fiction, fantasy, and of course mystery (what! No romance or western) furbishes a strong unique anthology in which the worlds of Lovecraft and Doyle converge into a tremendous short story book with no weak entry. Harriet Klausner
Hey gang, beware this issue - several authors have expressed their dismay that the editors have mis-edited this book severely. It's to the point where at least one author wants to disclaim their story. Del Rey blew it.