G. S. Denning's Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine was published by Titan Books in May 2019.
Information about G. S. Denning:
G.S. Denning is the author of the acclaimed Sherlock-fantasy mashup series Warlock Holmes, including Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone and Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles. He has a background in improv and has performed with Ryan Stiles and Wayne Brady. He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two children.
Information about Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine:
Warlock Holmes may have demons in his head, but now Dr. John Watson has a mummy in his bloodstream. Specifically that of the sorcerer Xantharaxes, who, when shredded and dissolved in a seven-percent solution, produces some extremely odd but useful prophetic dreams. There’s also the small matter of Watson falling for yet another damsel-du-jour, and Warlock deciding that his companion needs some domestic bliss...
REVIEW: WARLOCK HOLMES: THE SIGN OF NINE BY G. S. DENNING
G. S. Denning's Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine is an excellent and much-awaited continuation of the Warlock Holmes series, which parodises and satirises Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories in a brilliant way. This amazing novel offers readers amusing and clever mysteries, delivered with precision and impeccable style.
The Sign of Nine is a splendid novel to everybody who loves humorous fantasy fiction and mystery stories. It's a wonderful and irresistibly original blend of fantasy, mystery and horror elements with plenty of inventiveness and charming wittiness. I'm sure that readers who love humorous stories will be impressed by this novel and its contents, because it's something different and unique.
I consider The Sign of Nine to be one of the most amusing and entertaining novels of the year, because the author has fully captured the essence of the original Sherlock Holmes stories and has boldly created his own stunningly original vision of the famous detective and his sidekick Dr. John Watson. Everything about this novel exudes originality and quality, because the author's take on Sherlock Holmes is absolutely hilarious in its shamelessly quirky approach to the source material.
This novel consists of the following stories:
- The Adventure of the Noble Arse-Face
- The Toymaker
- The Adventure of Beppo vs. Napoleon (A Fight in Six Rounds)
- The Devil and the Neophyte
- The Adventure of Black Peter Blackguard McNotVeryNice
- The Gang
- The Adventure of the Ring of Red Faction
- The Detective
- The Sign of Nine
As Dr. John Watson states in the first story, the first novel told of how the strange adventure began and the second one told of how Dr. Watson came into his own as an adventurer and detective, and the third novel told of how Moriarty and Adler came back into the lives of Dr. Watson and Warlock Holmes to bring them defeat upon defeat. Now, this fourth novel tells of Dr. Watson's addiction and shame.
In these stories, Warlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson deal - amongst other things - with Moriarty, Irene Adler and the treasure hunter Mary Morstan. This time, readers have an opportunity to read about how Watson injects himself with bits of shredded Persian mummy to learn more about James Moriarty and Irene Adler. Readers will learn what happens to Watson as he becomes addicted to the use of remains of the mummy.
The characterisation is spot-on in these stories, because the author has created fully-fleshed characters who are surprisingly far more interesting as persons than the original characters on which they are based on. I have to admit that I'm surprised at how much depth the characters have and how well they are portrayed, because the author pays attention to their characteristics and behaviour, not to mention their various flaws.
Here's a bit of information about the stories without spoilers:
"The Adventure of the Noble Arse-Face": This opening story finds Dr. John Watson recovering from what happened to him at the end of the previous novel. Dr. Watson and Warlock Holmes help a lord to find out what has happened to his bride.
In "The Toymaker", Dr. Watson dreams of an elderly toymaker and James Moriarty after injecting himself with a solution made of the shredded remains of the sorcerer Xantharaxes. I found this story fascinating, because it has a strange fairy tale kind of a feel to it.
In "The Adventure of Beppo vs. Napoleon (A Fight in Six Rounds)", the protagonists find themselves solving a mystery involving busts of Napoleon. I loved this story, because it's something different due to the perpetrator's identity.
"The Devil and the Neophyte" is an interesting dream sequence about Irene Adler, James Moriarty and a demon.
"The Adventure of Black Peter Blackguard McNotVeryNice" tells of how the protagonists are investigating the death of a man called Captain Peter Carey aka Black Peter. The revelations during the investigation are fascinating and surprising.
"The Gang" is a dream sequence about Moriarty, the toymaker and Irene Adler. I found this dream sequence especially intriguing, because it's sophisticatedly dark and is filled with a foreboding atmosphere.
In "The Adventure of the Ring of Red Faction", Warlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are asked to look into the matter of a mysterious lodger who has weaseled his way into the house of Mrs. Warren and doesn't come out of his rooms. The mysterious person has instructed Mrs. Warren not to try and find out anything about him.
"The Detective" is a dream sequence in which Watson dreams of something alarming and unexpected in the basement room. I was impressed by this dream, because it's sufficiently dark and revealing.
The final story, "The Sign of Nine", is a brilliantly realised novella-length story with a fine plot. In this story, Mary Morstan needs Warlock Holmes and Dr. Watson's help in a matter concerning a mysterious meeting she is supposed to attend. I enjoyed reading about Thaddeus Sholto, because the author's way of writing about him and his unusual appearance was thrilling. I was also pleasantly surprised about how the author wrote about what happened between Dr. Watson and Mary Morstan.
The dream sequences, which are taken from the dream journal of Dr. John Watson, are a great addition to the story, because they're well written and have quite a lot of dark fantasy elements. I was fascinated by Dr. Watson's self-poisoning and his addiction to the remains of the mummy, because he consciously injected himself with the remains in order to find out more information about important things.
I enjoy the author's witty writing style and find it refreshing. G. S. Denning has been a competent and excellent writer since the first novel and with each new instalment he has become increasingly fluent at writing fiction that echoes the Victorian atmosphere and setting of the original stories. To spice things up, he throws in a few well chosen modern elements, eeriness and captivating quirkiness.
What I like most about this novel (and its predecessors) is the author's ability to combine elements of mystery fiction, fantasy fiction and weird fiction in an entertaining and thrilling way. He seamlessly blends these elements to create strange mysteries that are incredibly funny and highly enjoyable.
Because I loved this novel and found it impressive, I look forward to reading the fifth instalment, The Finality Problem. I can hardly wait to get my hands on the forthcoming novel, because this novel left me wanting more. I simply can't get enough of these novels!
If you enjoy reading humorous speculative fiction and love mystery stories, G. S. Denning's Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine should definitely be at the top of your reading list, because it's one of the most entertaining humorous speculative fiction novels ever published. It's addictive and compelling escapism to readers who want to treat themselves to an enjoyable reading experience filled with humour, fantasy and mystery.