Reviewed by Peter Coleborn
Titan Books is publishing new titles featuring the famous and infamous creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, including Kim Newman’s Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles and this novel by Guy Adams. Beginning The Breath of God, I was struck by how many memories it brought back, of a time long ago when I devoured the stories of Sherlock Holmes. That was an auspicious start.
Dr Silence seeks the expertise ofLondon’s greatest detective, telling Holmes a tall tale. Holmes at the time seems to be suffering from ennui, with no case able to stretch his logical mind. Silence’s story does. And pretty soon Holmes and Watson are off on an adventure that involves murder, mayhem and the supernatural (or is it?).
With characters named Carnacki, Karswell, Crowley, Silence … it’s rather obvious in which direction the author takes this novel. And maybe certain readers of the Conan Doyle stories will be taken aback by the inexplicable, preferring the more rational explanations, not the supernatural. Nevertheless, readers steeped in the tales of Hope Hodgson and James et al, as well as Conan Doyle, will find themselves fully engaged in this book.
I won’t call this a pastiche since that has negative overtones. This is a homage that treats with respect the characters Adams has borrowed. Personally, I prefer Holmes in the short story format but other than that nitpick, this is well written, engrossing and effective.