Written by Lois H. Gresh. RRP £7.99. 400pp. Out now from Titan Books
THE ADVENTURE OF THE NEURAL PSYCHOSIS is Lois H. Gresh’s sequel to her previous SHERLOCK HOLMES VS CTHULHU book, THE ADVENTURE OF THE DEADLY DIMENSIONS. Holmes vs Lovecraftian entities seems to be a match made in pulp heavan. There’s James Lovegroves, THE CTHULHU CASEBOOKS, a trilogy of novels that pit the two against each other and going back further there’s the AWAKENED PC Game and the DOCTOR WHO book; ALL-CONSUMING FIRE. However despite all this, it’s still a crossover that offers much to be explored. Gresh covered a lot of ground in her first book, ticking many of the boxes required to please fans of both franchises. However with this second one now having been confirmed to be followed by a third, she ups her game and includes a great deal more Holmesian and Lovecraftian tropes. Picking up some short time after the previous novel, this starts by both tying up some of the loose ends left by that book but also building on the world established by Gresh. The danger this time involves Lovecraftian entities finding their way into individuals minds, the resultant ‘psychosis’ being manipulated by both Professor Henry Fitzgerald and Moriarty.
Like the first novel, not to mention the classic works of Conan Doyle himself, this is written from the perspective of at first Dr. Watson (retelling the adventure in his usual manner) and then various other characters. Admittedly the characterisation of both Sherlock and Dr Watson were elements that attracted criticism after the publication of the first book, and their still problematic here. Namely Gresh can’t quite capture the voice of Watson and at points the dialogue seems a little less-turn of the century and more twenty-first century. It’s also very action heavy at times, far more so than either of the two literary franchises that spawned it. Also characters such as Moriarty and Mycroft seem a little half-baked, not really capturing the spirit of the literary originals. That said they are two characters who appear far less in the Holmes stories than we are often led to believe and so Gresh is allowed some creative licence when it comes to her portrayal of these two. Of course Conan Doyle is not an easy act to follow and so Gresh should not feel hard done by, with this being a marked improvement upon the first book.
On the whole, this second helping of SHERLOCK HOLMES VS CTHULHU is tremendous fun that cannot be denied. There are several issues, namely the somewhat action heavy prose which doesn’t really capture the spirit of the time period. Not to mention several of Conan Doyle’s characters suffer a little, though with some of these it is understandable. Both of these points are frustrating and do halt enjoyment somewhat, but as non-stop adventure this is a great attempt at a very hard crossover. The plot goes in interesting and intriguing places that manages to evoke many of the tropes and trappings of the two franchises and I for one am interested to see where Gresh takes this next.
SHERLOCK HOLMES VS CTHULHU: THE ADVENTURE OF THE NEURAL PSYCHOSIS ***
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