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Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes
edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Edge Publishing, 336 pages

Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes
J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec
Jeff Campbell's fiction has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Spinetingler Magazine, Wax Romantic and Challenging Destiny. From time to time his writing can also be heard on radio's Imagination Theater and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In addition to writing, he has co-edited the Sherlock Holmes anthologies Curious Incidents 1 and 2 with his good friend Charles Prepolec.

Charles Prepolec has contributed articles and reviews to All Hallows, Sherlock Magazine, Scarlet Street, and Canadian Holmes. An active Sherlockian for more than 20 years with Calgary's The Singular Society of the Baker Street Dozen, he was designated a Master Bootmaker in 2006 by the Canada's national Sherlock Holmes Society.

ISFDB Bibliography: J.R. Campbell
ISFDB Bibliography: Charles Prepolec

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Mario Guslandi

Very few fictional characters have seen their lives indefinitely prolonged by countless tales and books by various devoted followers as the mythical Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson. Gaslight Grimoire assembles eleven new stories -- penned by a bunch of contemporary authors eager to revisit the classical characters and atmospheres created by Conan Doyle and graced by a number of black and white illustrations by Phil Cornell -- where the famous detective has to deal with the supernatural.

To a man like Holmes, imbued with rationality, who has been using logic and deduction to solve the most puzzling cases, supernatural had little room, if any, in his way of thinking. Indeed, as he stated in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," "no ghost need apply" and in fact both in that story and in the infamous The Hound of Baskerville, the agencies at work turned out to be absolutely mortal.

Here, by contrast, the sceptical detective must face dark forces he doesn't believe can exist and, although grudgingly, in the end he has to accept the fact that they do.

Some of the stories are daring but unhappy attempts to amaze the reader, like Barbara Hambly's "The Lost Boy," a rather dull tale in which Sherlock Holmes meets Peter Pan(!), Peter Calamai's "The Steamship Friesland," an unremarkable story where Holmes solves a case by communicating with a spirit from afterlife, Martin Powell's "Sherlock Holmes in The Lost World," an implausible pastiche mixing two of Conan Doyle's works (The Lost World and the Sherlock Holmes saga) as in a flat B-movie or "The Granchester Grimoire" by the duo, Chico Kidd & Rick Kennett, a confused and confusing piece revolving around a missing book and involving both Holmes and occult detective Carnacki.

The final story, "The Red Planet League" by Kim Newman, which is actually about Professor Moriarty taking is revenge on a rival scientist, doesn't even include Holmes and appears rather out of place.

But now the good stuff. "His Last Harrow" by Christopher Sequeira is a complex, delightful tale where unspeakable horrors and unexpected secrets cast a dark shadow over the Holmes-Watson relationship, while" Merridew of Abominable Memory" is a solid, accomplished Holmesian story describing two interconnected cases with a peculiar, grand-guignolesque taste.

In the enjoyable, finely written "The Finishing Stroke" by M.J. Elliott deadly portraits drawn by an oddly talented painter constitute a mystery that even Homes cannot fully explain.

By far the best contributions come from Barbara Roden, Bob Madison and editor J.R. Campbell.

In Roden's "The Things That Shall Come Upon Them," Holmes finds himself unexpectedly teaming with occult investigator Flaxmen Low to unravel the mystery of some strange disturbances taking place in a country mansion. Entertaining and elegantly written, the story would have pleased Conan Doyle Himself.

Madison provides "Red Sunset," where an ultracentenarian Holmes, now living in USA helps a hardboiled PI to defeat the invasion of bunch of vampires imported from Romania. An extremely amusing piece, crafted with skill and a touch of humour.

Campbell's story is an excellent, well balanced mix between a typical Holmesian case and an effective horror story featuring a series of related murders and a girl torn between two worlds. His own contribution as an author is a fine example of what the anthology he has edited could have accomplished if he had excluded so many mediocre tales.

Copyright © 2009 by Mario Guslandi

Mario Guslandi lives in Milan, Italy, and is a long-time fan of dark fiction. His book reviews have appeared on a number of genre websites such as The Alien Online, Infinity Plus, Necropsy, The Agony Column and Horrorwold.

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