Charlotte Kinzie || Kamloops, BC
When this book arrived I was a little worried. I mean – you’ve all noticed how much Sherlock Holmes is around lately. I was a tiny bit concerned about reading another version of the world’s most famous detective. Guy Adams is a great author with a vivid imagination, and it shows in this novel.
“Sherlock Holmes – The Army of Dr. Moreau” is witty, fast paced, and exciting. Best of all, Adams’ versions of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are entertaining and well-rounded. Holmes has a sharp wit combined, at times, with the petulance of a child. Watson is patient and kind, stuck in his own thoughts much of the time and a hesitant participant in Holmes’ adventure.
There are vivid descriptions of the setting; the grimy underbelly of London, sewers, water ways, and seafarers’ drinking establishments, and it’s incredibly simple to be drawn into the story. It took me two days to read this and it wasn’t because I was skimming. The mystery is engaging and the characters are enigmatic enough that I didn’t want to put the story down. If you’re a fan of the genre look out for other characters; Dr. Moreau isn’t the only familiar name to appear.
Guy Adams was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions for us.
char: Your team of Sherlock and Watson were familiar enough for me to enjoy them but unique enough for me to love them. In a time when Sherlock seems to be everywhere (ie. movies, a BBC series and now a potential US series) how do you make such famous characters your own?
ADAMS: I’m glad they felt a little unique, I think it’s important to bring something a little fresh to them. As to how I do it, I think it comes down to the fact that we experience fiction subjectively so we’re bound to colour in elements of a character’s personality differently. We can’t help but add in parts of ourselves. This is the way I see them. It’s also my idealised version of their relationship, I’ve chosen to write them at the turn of the twentieth century so that Watson’s a widower and Holmes is tiring of his fame. That brings extra elements into play. They are also old friends now, two men who know each other so well they have become one person.
Characters are so movable, people are complex things.
char: Your descriptions of London are so detailed it’s like time travel when reading them. Do you have a familiarity with London? Is it research?
ADAMS: There are research elements involved but I know London quite well (and love it, it’s my favourite city). At times it feels like the third main character.
char: The banter between Sherlock and Watson is amusing and, at times, frustrating. They are very different from one another and yet, work well together in the novel. Is it difficult to write something with two such strong characters who are almost opposites?
ADAMS: Quite the reverse. I think the reason Holmes and Watson work so well is they are opposite halves of a perfect whole. Watson’s got too much heart, Holmes has too much brain. Put them together and amazing things happen.
char: It might seem trite but I want to know – who are you more like? Sherlock or Watson?
ADAMS: Watson, definitely, I feel too much. Everything to me is emotion, I’ve never been much of a thinker!
char: There’s a sharper edge to the “events” in “The Army of Dr. Moreau” (I don’t want to give spoilers for your novel); is your love of the horror genre responsible for that?
ADAMS: Probably. The Breath of God was my love letter to supernatural literature, this turned the focus to the other great staple of the time, the ‘scientific romance’. Still, it’s a fleshy subject with an inherent element of body horror. Hopefully that’s played down quite a bit but Doyle was a fan of the sensational and grotesque so it feels right to keep some elements of that in the stories. Co-creator of the BBC’s SHERLOCK, Steven Moffat said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘Most detectives have cases, Holmes has adventures.’ I think that’s an incredibly insightful statement and very much mirrors the approach I’ve taken with these books.
char: The novel has a great mystery. How difficult is it to ‘plan’ a mystery for a character to solve?
ADAMS: I’m glad you think that! I was actually concerned people would think it was too slight in that department. I don’t plan a great deal, I work better creating a messy, brave first draft then go back and correct all my mistakes. Sometimes the trick is to write yourself into corners then you have to be extra inventive to work your way out of them.
SYNOPSIS (From Titanbooks.com)
Dead bodies are found on the streets of London with wounds that can only be explained as the work of ferocious creatures not native to the city.
Sherlock Holmes is visited by his brother, Mycroft, who is only too aware that the bodies are the calling card of Dr Moreau, a vivisectionist who was working for the British Government, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, before his experiments attracted negative attention and the work was halted. Mycroft believes that Moreau’s experiments continue and he charges his brother with tracking the rogue scientist down before matters escalate any further.