What do you think of when someone mentions Sherlock Holmes? The epitome of fictional detectives? A series of stories so timely and so visionary that they revolutionized police-work, the world over? A deerstalker? A pipe? Benedict Cumberbatch’s perfect cheek-bones?
You wouldn’t be wrong.
But in this season of fun-filled frights, let’s take a moment to reflect on one oft-overlooked aspect of the world’s favorite detective:
He’s really creepy.
No. Seriously. Just pleasantly-but-sometimes-right-to-the-edge-of-discomfortingly creepy.
Do you know where the modern tradition of Halloween takes its roots? Dartmoor. Arthur Conan Doyle repeatedly set his adventures out upon the moor in abandoned hallows filled with lethal peat-bogs, fog, reeds and wisp-light. Want to see Holmes and Watson chasing a seemingly-demonic hound across moonlit moor? Well then, it’s no wonder Hound of the Baskervilles is amongst the most popular of Doyle’s original 60 stories.
Now, if you want to see them chasing an actually-demonic hound across a moonlit moor, you’ll have to check out my second book: Hell-hound of the Baskervilles. And for those of you who just rolled their eyes at how easy it must have been for me to come up with that angle: yeah, that’s sort of my point. You don’t have to work hard to make Sherlock Holmes macabre. It’s there already.
One of the less-known stories is called The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire; it features a mother who’s been caught sucking blood out of the neck of her own infant. Even in 1898, not great parenting.
Or how about The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb? It features not just the aforementioned disembodied thumb, but also its owner, trapped in a room-sized hydraulic press, debating if he should stand up, or sit down or lie face up or… Well, just what exactly is the least-painful way to be slowly crushed to death? It’s ironic that the modern detective story is attributed to Edgar Alan Poe, because in moments such as these, Doyle absolutely equals Poe’s famous brand of dark introspection.
Or maybe you’d just like to see Sherlock murder a dog. Would that be nice? Dog murder, anyone?
Because that’s how he unravels his very first case, A Study in Scarlet. Yep. No lie. To figure out if the pills he’s recovered are poisonous, he steals his neighbor-girl’s dog and feeds it half of each pill.
Guess what? (1887 spoilers follow…) Totally poison. There is something uniquely Halloween-ish about a character who thinks that is acceptable behavior. Oh yeah, and half the people he meets seem to think the only way he could possibly know the things he knows is dark magic. They’re wrong.
He’s not magical. But he is probably sociopathic. And he’s definitely not on the ASPA’s top 10 list of great guys.
So if Halloween makes you think about goblins, vampires, demonic possession and soul-binding magic… Well, pick up a copy of my first book, A Study in Brimstone. It’s all in there.
But if you’ve got a little time to kill before All-Hallow’s Eve, and if you’ve got a mind for the classics, here’s what you do:
You pull your favorite chair up to next to a window on a rainy night. You get some fleece pants and a comfy blanket. You brew up a nice cup of tea. Light a couple candles. Then snuggle down and spend a little cozy murder time with the undisputed-number-one-original-king-of-creepy-daddy-detectives, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
He learned his story-telling skills on the improv stage as a member of Orlando Theatersports, Seattle Theatersports, Jet City Improv, and as a Disney Performer at Epcot. G.S. also worked for Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast.
Finally, after realizing that humanity had not used the pun Warlock Holmes yet, he sat down to begin his first novel series: a dark-comic retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes stories. G.S. Lives in Las Vegas with The Best Wife and The Best Children.
Find G.S. Denning and his books
A Study in Brimstone
Warlock Holmes #1
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. A font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim.
Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart companion.
Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.
The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles
Warlock Holmes #2
The game’s afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty’s gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell hound, one assumes.
My Grave Ritual
Warlock Holmes #3
Sherlock Holmes is a genius … Warlock Holmes is something else …
As they blunder towards doom, Warlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson find themselves inconvenienced by a variety of eldritch beings. Christmas brings a goose that doesn't let being cooked slow it down; they meet an electricity demon, discover why being a redhead is even tricker than one might imagine, and Holmes attempts an Irish accent. And, naturally, Moriarty is hanging around... in some form or other.
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