REVIEW: Holmes and Watson are pushed to their limits in ‘The Christmas Demon’

(Titan Books)

Sherlock Holmes & The Christmas Demon marks James Lovegrove’s ninth full-length Sherlock Holmes novel.  In addition to many Holmes-featured short stories in various anthologies, Lovegrove has contributed five books to Titan’s New Sherlock Holmes Series and written three works under the Cthulhu Casebooks banner.  We have reviewed several of Lovegrove’s works here at PopMythology and are long-term devoted fans of his cannon.

The Christmas Demon is a holiday season release with a festive crimson cover adorned with mistletoe, lovely scrollwork, and gilded lettering.  The presentation might lure the unwary reader into complacency, expecting a cozy, fireplace tale accentuated by caroling, visits from St. Nick, softly falling soft, and perhaps a mug of hot mulled cider.  But what lies inside this cheery cover is a tale meant for All Hallow’s Eve, a night where primal rituals hold sway.

Lovegrove sets the story in a sprawling, gloomy Yorkshire castle, haunted by spirits of departed souls who had met untimely, violent deaths.  The keep is the seat of the Allenthorpe legacy, an old-money, titled English family with a dark secret buried in the past.  And we have our heroine, Eve Allenthorpe, who is being bedeviled by an ancient, evil Celtic spirit, the Black Thurrick.  At stake is her very sanity, upon which the legitimacy of her inheritance rests.  She travels to London to beg the assistance of detecting dynamo duo, Holmes, and Watson.  Can the pair sort out the supernatural riddles of the Allenthorpes and their estate to restore Eve’s lucidity and peace of mind before she comes of age on Christmas Eve?

Sorting this case out takes all of Holmes’s deductive acuity to unravel the complicated tapestry of the family’s history.  Waston’s medical skills are put to the task time and again as matters veer in directions savage and maniacal.  And both are pushed to the edges of their physical and mental limits in a race to prevent further irreversible tragedies.

The Christmas Demon is an outstanding, exciting mystery story, worthy of a place next to the greats, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, etc.  But The Christmas Demon also ranks among the best and truest to form of the Sherlock Holmes pastiche catalogue.  Lovegrove’s writings are a contemporary gift to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fans and not to be missed.

About Andrea Sefler

Andrea Sefler
Andrea is a consultant and technical writer for various scientific software and instrumentation companies. She has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Berkeley and has never met a genre of music or books that she hasn’t liked. As a gamer since the days of the Apple II, Andrea can relate any number of hair-raising tales about role-playing games stored on 360 kB 5.25” floppy disks and may, someday, put them to paper.