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Bane of Kings reviews The Army of Dr. Moreau, a Sherlock Holmes novel by Guy Adams, published by Titan Books.
“A great read. Most Sherlock Holmes fans will find something that they like in Adams’ latest tale of the World’s Greatest Detective .” ~The Founding Fields
I’m going to admit that I wasn’t really introduced to Sherlock Holmes as a character until Steven Moffat’s brilliant modern-day adaption of the series in BBC’s Sherlock. I’d heard about him before, I mean – who hadn’t? It was Sherlock that got me hooked to Conan-Doyle’s creation, and it was Sherlock that got me reading the individual stories, which anybody should read (They’re free downloads on IBooks). When I heard about The Army of Dr. Moreau, Guy Adams’ second novel with Sherlock Holmes, I knew I had to read it as soon as I could. Some of you may know Guy Adams through his work at Angry Robot, with The World House and Restoration (That was where I first heard about Adams, even though I haven’t read the books yet), others may be wanting to read some more Sherlock Holmes. Whatever your taste is, The Army of Dr. Moreau is certainly an enjoyable read.
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.
Although The Army of Dr. Moreau may seem at times a tad too supernatural for Conan-Doyle fans, that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It is perhaps one of the more enjoyable reads that I’ve read in while now, standing up there with Jim Butcher’s White Night, because – any Dresden Files novel is a fun read, long-running fans of the series will know that by now. The Army of Dr. Moreau sticks to Conan-Doyle’s characters very well, painting an accurate portrayal of Holmes and of course, is narrated in a first person POV by John Watson. What I liked about this tale is that Adams has managed to make Watson unavailable for some scenes that take place, forcing other characters to have a couple of chapters every now and again where they get the chance to tell the story. We get a POV from both Holmes brothers, (yes – Mycroft does show up in this tale) – and a couple of others.
Released last month, The Army of Dr. Moreau is certainly an engaging read, and Adams, like Conan-Doyle before him, made it seem as though it’s Watson narrating the tale, and not the author in certain places, and there’s even a visit to Watson’s editor, who suggests to him that he should perhaps make his cases more extravagant and longer for readers rather than the short stories that he’s used to, in a brilliant bit of foreshadowing.
There are many strengths to Adam’s tale, and I found few weaknesses with The Army of Dr. Moreau. The author has clearly has written Sherlock Holmes before and knows what he’s doing with both the characters and the plot. The action is well-written, and you never know quite what’s going to happen next. Sure, you know Watson and Holmes will make it through, but apart from that, well – Adams has managed to write a very unpredictable novel, whilst still remaining true to the established Holmes lore, even if this is perhaps the closest to fantasy portrayal of Holmes that I have seen. The Army of Dr. Moreau also makes me want to check out Adams’ first Sherlock Holmes book for Titan, The Breath of God. Whilst you don’t have to read that to understand what happens in this,as I did – I’m now wanting to hunt down a copy and give it a read.
Great stuff here, and something that most Sherlock Holmes fans will enjoy. Those who have read H G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau will also enjoy this tale, I think. Adams manages to capture the historical period of 19th Century London very well, with no historical inaccuracies that I spotted and even manages to make a particular trip down the sewers seem very real indeed. Although the mystery element may not make it Holmes’ hardest case, The Army of Dr. Moreau should not be overlooked.