- Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon
Author: James Lovegrove
- ISBN: 9781785658020
- Published: October 2019
- Pages: 384
- Format reviewed: Hardback
- Review date: 05/11/2019
- Language: English
Sherlock Holmes is long dead, but this has not stopped the character’s legacy from living on. Sherlock was incredibly popular in his Victorian heyday, but the number of TV shows, films and books still being made today suggests that this popularity is still the case. Taking the concept of Sherlock and Holmes and modernising them gives you a little leeway, but setting new stories in the original time and setting is going to force comparisons with Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories. It takes a confident writer to attempt this and do it well. Thankfully, with Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon we are in the capable hands of James Lovegrove.
As Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson find themselves arresting a department Father Christmas, they unwittingly catch the attention of a young socialite called Eve Allerthorpe. Could this happenstance be just what Eve was looking for? Back in her family’s large Yorkshire Estate she is being haunted by a creature known as the Black Thurrick, a demon that steals naughty children. Is Eve going insane or is it just a coincidence that she is about to come into her inheritance on the day of her 21st birthday, Christmas Eve.
There are several modern authors who are writing Sherlock Holmes tales, but few of them can balance modern sensibilities with the style of Conan Doyle. Lovegrove is one of the best. Does Christmas Demon feel like it could have been written in 1890? Not really, as it flows in the style that a 2019 reader has come to expect. Lovegrove is a writer who respects the work of the original, but also respects the wishes of a modern reader.
Christmas Demon has the style and appeal of a classic adventure; one story leading into another. Tropes such as Sherlock’s arrogance, a damsel with the vapours and a slice of the supernatural are all present. You could comfortably see this book being adapted as a lavish Christmas TV event and the general public lapping it up, unaware that it was written well over a hundred years after it is set.
The book works because it has a great mystery at the centre and the relationship between Sherlock and Watson feels so right. Lovegrove keeps the concept that this is a non-fiction told from the pen of Watson, so it is this character that we see events through. His internal monologues feel right for the character and it was nice to see the compassion that both our heroes have for one another.
The case of the Black Thurrick feels like something that you could have pulled straight from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The protagonists act as they might back then, it is only some of the sensibilities of the Allerthorpe’s who feel more present. There have always been liars, cheats and charlatans in Sherlock Holmes’ books, but here their actions are a little fruiter in detail. This is in keeping with what we are used to reading in 2019 and makes for a pacier read that will have fans of modern crime fiction enjoying the book alongside Sherlockian diehards.
With the presence of a Christmas Demon at its centre, this is a book that feels more seasonal than most. You can read it anytime of the year, but there is a benefit from reading it in December. Lovegrove paints a picture of a High Victorian Christmas that will have you racing to the internet to research what half the food is. Potted lamperns anyone? The book truly captures the spirit towards the end in a scene that gives you that warm feeling that only Christmas can bestow.
With so many modern Sherlock books being written it is sometimes difficult to know which ones to try. Lovegrove proves once more with Christmas Demon that he can capture an authentic sense of the originals and still create a compelling tale that will appeal to modern tastes. This book can be devoured in a few reading sessions by an avid reader. Therefore, it will make a great Christmas gift for the Sherlock Holmes fan in your life. They will have it done by Boxing Day and rightly so.
Written on 5th November 2019 by Sam Tyler .