Guy Adams is back. This is obviously good news, but it gets better. He has written a Sherlock Holmes book, The Breath of God. I grew up reading Sherlock Holmes, so I’m keen to find out what Guy Adams can do with my favorite detective. There is an added twist though, in the Breath of God, our favorite sleuth is not just up against natural villains, but also supernatural ones. Thank you Titan Books for providing me with a review copy of the Breath of God.
Just as it should, the Breath of God starts in a living room on Baker Street, with the announcement of a visitor by Mrs Hudson. Sherlock Holmes is already restless after a period of inactivity, with no cases to stir his interest Dr Watson can only watch as his friend turns inwards, to music and his drugs. The visitor, a Dr Silence, is a man in distress, as observed by Sherlock Holmes, but his tale is one a rational man finds hard to believe. A tale of secret societies, conspiracies and magic. Factions within this society are fighting each other, and how they have somehow gotten hold of powerful magic, the breath of god, and how they intend to use it as a weapon.
It's the kind of story you expect Sherlock Holmes, not being very open minded, to immediately dismiss. However, his own name is part of it, and there has been a murder. A young rich heir, who was a member of the occult society, was found dead with unexplainable injuries. He was so bruised, with every bone in his body broken, it appeared he had died from falling from a great height. His body was found in London, where such a fall could not have taken place.
It's all enough for Sherlock Holmes to start his investigation, and it's a very familiar approach where Dr Watson follows him around, only to get everything wrong. They jump on and off coaches, travels by train, and Sherlock Holmes does not reveal much of what he knows. Pretty much what you expect, at least until the first demon appears...
It's always a risk as a writer wearing someone else's shoes, or pen, when you take on their characters. Readers will have expectations on how they act, the setting and atmosphere. Guy Adams does a good job tackling the characters and the setting. Dr Watson is narrating, and both language and setting feels both familiar and appropriate for the time.
At first the occult aspect seemed like a big risk, but then I was reminded of the Hound of Baskerville and also the remake of that book in Sherlock, the new BBC TV show. So horror is not really something new for a Sherlock Holmes novel, but Guy Adams takes it to the next level, scary stuff is his forte. I have not read any of those genre blending Sherlock Holmes books, but I found the horror and suspense refreshing, while still keeping it real enough, avoiding straying too far away from the originals.
The Breath of God was well worth reading, and I will pick up Guy Adam's next Sherlock Holmes novel, The Army of Doctor Moreau, when it's released.
The Breath of God weighs in at 224 pages and is published by Titan Books.