Author: Kim Newman
Published: 4 October 2011 by Titan Books
Length: 476 pages
Warnings: violence, references to prostitution, 13+
Other info: Kim has also written the Anno Dracula books, as well as other things
Summary : Imagine the twisted evil twins of Holmes and Watson and you have the dangerous duo of Prof. James Moriarty - wily, snake- like, fiercely intelligent, unpredictable - and Colonel Sebastian 'Basher' Moran - violent,politically incorrect, debauched. Together they run London crime, owning police and criminals alike. Unravelling mysteries -- all for their own gain.
Review: Moriarty and Moran-the criminal equivalent of Holmes and Watson. This collection of short stories charts their running around London and the rest of England, living with a woman who runs a brothel, and taking on their fair share of cases.
Literary mashup galore in here! Obviously, the Sherlock-verse is the major recipient of Kim's treatment, but there are characters from many other Victorian stories. The titles are all plays on the more-known Sherlock Holmes stories, and all feature
In the author's note, we're told that the first to be written was A Shambles in Belgravia. In my opinion, this one was the best. The opening line is my favourite in the whole novel: "To Professor Moriarty, she is always that bitch." Compare this to the reverance that Sherlock holds for the same woman, Irene Adler, and you should understand why this book is amazing.
A Volume in Vermillion keeps introductions a rather neat parallel to A Study in Scarlet, before putting Moran in his first spot of trouble. I didn't really enjoy The Red Planet League. It just didn't hold my attention. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles was good at bringing together various literary characters from everywhere, as was The Adventure of the Six Maledictions. The Greek Invertebrate is the best paced story, and The Problem of the Final Adventure brings back characters from the previous stories. It also leaves Sherlock and Moriarty's fates really, really ambiguous.
The stories are written as a set of diaries from Moran. The writing style is very entertaining, with most of it about the case, but a lot of interruptions pertaining to Mrs Halifax's girls and what Moran wants to do with them.
Sebastian Moran is fully built up characterwise, and the kind of guy that you might want to be friends with if you like people loud, strong opinioned and a little mad. It's also good to see his character and his attitudes to things develop with exposure to Moriarty.
Professor James Moriarty. Painted very well, much more elaborately than Conan Doyle ever did. His attitudes are strange and roundabout, and you can't always understand him. I really like what Newman has done-given him two brothers also called James. The Moriarty family are all as eccentric as eachother, but the Professor was my favourite of the three.
He's not my favourite character in the whole thing though. That goes to Sophy, a Greek woman who joins Moriarty's family of crime and is a really good actress. Close second is Irene Adler, who has remained as an opera singer, albeit one that caused a man to kill himself after her performance. In addition to these two women, there's a large cast of criminals and clients making up the supporting cast. Interestingly, Watson is quoted a couple of times as Moran gives his uncomplimentary view on the same event, and Sherlock is reduced to being only "The Thin Man".
Overall: Strength 5 tea to a book taking many things I love and throwing them together.