The Hound of the D’Urbervilles

30 Jun

“The Hound of the d’Urbervilles” is a wonderful novel by Kim Newman set (more or less) in Conan Doyle’s world of Holmes and Watson, but follows the exploits of Professor James Moriarty, as seen through the eyes of his Number 2 – Colonel Sebastian ‘Basher’ Moran.

The book is several novellas linked together to make a novel.  I originally came across two of the stories in Charles Prepolic’s “Gaslight” anthologies and fell in love with Kim’s Sebastian Moran.  An utter rogue who would make a good running mate for Harry Flashman.

Kim Newman’s Moriarty is a chilling snake of a man and his Moran is actually terribly human, and actually rather likeable.

A parade of Conan Doyle characters wander through the stories, as do characters from other books – Raffles makes an appearance, as does Thomas Carnaki and Simon Carne.

In the story “The Greek Invertebrate” I was delighted to find a character from Billy Wilder’s movie “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”, to whit, Madam Gabrielle Valladon aka Ilsa Von Hoffmanstal.

“The Hound of the d’Urbervilles” is a feast for all Sherlock Holmes fans, even though the man himself is never mentioned by name, only obliquely referred to as ‘The Thin Man of Baker Street’, as well as Mycroft being known only as ‘The Fat Man in Whitehall’.

Kim Newman has written a book that is charming, entertaining, funny and poignant by turns.  If you are not sure if you will enjoy it, I will point out that two of the people he thanks at the end are Mark Gatiss and Neil Gaiman.

I would recommend the book to anyone who loves Victorian adventure stories, BBC’s “Sherlock” and Sherlock Holmes in general.  A sense of humor and the ridiculous is a must.  If you do read it (and I really think you should), make sure you keep a bookmark in the back of the book and read the footnotes as you go.  They are amusing, witty and really add to the joy of reading the book.

“The Hound of the d’Urbervilles” is one of those rare books that, when given the chance, will enchant and delight the reader over and over again.

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