Amy Caudill‘s review
In the second volume of author James Lovegrove’s trilogy The Cthulhu Casebooks, he once again combines the characters from the classic author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with creatures and situations from another classic author, H.P. Lovecraft.
The second book opens approximately fifteen years after the conclusion of the events of the first, as the author shares a somewhat edited manuscript he supposedly inherited from Lovecraft himself, which was written by the real Dr. John Watson. As before, the text is told in one continuous linear story line, and bears only passing resemblance to Watson’s “fictional” published stories, which are supposedly both a source of income for Watson and Holmes and a sanitized outlet for Watson to share the horrific events the duo have endured.
In “reality,” the “true” events Watson and Holmes have participated in and resolved are much more terrifying than dealing with thieves, murderers and forgers. They are the main champions in a very small selective group of men who are aware that the Old Gods and Gods from Outer Realms are alive, present, and capable of enacting and reacting to events and beings on Earth. They remain dedicated to not only thwarting and containing this evil, but protecting the world at large from knowledge and panic over its existence.
The first and third parts of this narration are the usual for Holmes and Watson; an event causes a spark of concern, an investigation that leads into danger, a clue appearing at an opportune moment, and a confrontation that may become deadly.
The second part of the story is actually a journal read aloud by the heroes that was written by Zachariah Conroy, depicting his own encounters with the arcane through a fellow student and colleague, Nathaniel Whateley, at the fictional Miskatonic University, an Ivy League school in Massachusetts. Whateley possesses a copy of the same book that Holmes has fiercely guarded, that allows him to conjure and control various creatures of the supernatural order. Unfortunately, Whateley does not possess Holmes’ strength of will and moral constitution, and Conroy is too involved in his experiments to understand the true nature of the beast they will release, until it consumes him.
In the end, we see a return of a supposedly dead body-jumping nemesis, as two lives are forever destroyed, and a great threat upon humanity is held back, but for how long?
This novel, as with the first, is faithful to the characterizations of Holmes and Watson while placing them into situations Doyle never envisioned, and at the same time contains enough Lovecraftian horror to satisfy diehard fans of that genre. Overall a well done and engaging story, that I give five stars. I will definitely check out the third volume of The Cthulhu Casebooks in the future, and perhaps some of James Lovegrove’s other Sherlock Holmes stories.