This fourth volume of the adventures of Warlock Holmes is the broadest sweeping narrative yet. Out-maneuvering Pinkerton detectives, overcoming Italian Mafioso’s, and uncovering folktale selkies, are just some of the encounters depicted in this paranormal spoof of Arthur Conan Doyle’s illustrious detective stories.
Our story begins as John Watson and Warlock Holmes reverse their characters more than usual for this author’s version of the famous duo. Watson, determined to find Moriarty and Adler, begins experimenting with introducing a 7% solution of mummified Persian sorcerer into his blood stream in hopes of inducing prophetic dreams.
Watson’s “dream sequences” populate every other story in this anthology of linked narratives, as Watson poisons his body and gains Holmes’ suspicions, under a drug-induced hallucinated state that shows him truths about Moriarty’s past. Watson’s addiction leads to an even greater role reversal for the master of deduction (Watson) and the bumbling sorcerer (Holmes) who is forced for once to be the responsible one, and attempt to save Watson’s life and soul in the process.
But how does Warlock manage to accomplish such a task with his limited understanding of humanity and human interactions? Holmes decides Watson needs a love interest of course. And naturally he chooses the latest damsel in distress to cross their paths, Mary Morstan. It doesn’t matter that Watson is not the least bit interested in her, not to Holmes. Because he has determined Mary will be John’s salvation, through a magical intervention that rocks the conclusion to this anthology.
G.S. Denning takes these well-beloved characters and molds them to fit perfectly into the new scenarios he has devised, while retaining enough of the original source material that they remain recognizable to fans of Conan Doyle. The author manages to seamlessly insert his own dramatic and paranormally influenced-material into the 1890’s vernacular, while his creations are at home discussing subjects of magic, sorcery, necromancy, and fairy tales.
While G. S. Denning is hardly the first author to imitate, or reimagine, the writings of the classic author, this book and the series are both a humorous and entertaining tribute, one I would recommend to any fans of either Sherlock Holmes or paranormal mysteries. I award The Sign of Nine five stars. I’m sad I have to wait almost another year for the next volume in the series.