Book Review: The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles by G.S. Denning
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of Warlock Holmes
Publisher: Titan Books (May 16, 2017)
Length: 320 pages
The thing about Warlock Holmes is, you can’t stop at just one. A Study in Brimstone was so much fun, I simply couldn’t bear the thought of letting book two go unread for one second longer. Almost as soon as I finished the first book, I fell upon the sequel The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles like a ravenous zombie on a fresh brain.
Last we left our characters, Warlock’s arch nemesis Moriarty had just revealed himself, setting off a chain of events that left the brilliantly dim detective in a strange state of dead-but-not-dead. Not knowing what to do with the inert and decomposing body, Dr. Watson has decided to conceal the truth behind his friend’s apparent passing—at least for the time being. After making up a cover story to explain Holmes’ whereabouts and filling their flat at 221b Baker Street with flowers to hide the smell, Watson sets his sights on finding a way to bring Warlock back to life.
This second novel closely mirrors the format of the first, containing a series of stories following Warlock Holmes’ eventual resurrection and recovery from a being a rotting corpse. From a not-so-relaxing jaunt to the peaceful countryside of Surrey to an outlandish tricycle race in Farnham, our characters are once again embarking upon a number of adventures inspired by the original tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, the book’s tour de force is without a doubt its title story “The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles” which makes up more than half its pages, and features the culmination of everything that has happened in the series so far.
I picked up this sequel expecting more hilarity and fun times, and I was definitely not disappointed. In fact, the author appears to have raised the humor to a whole other level—the situations Holmes and Watson find themselves in are even more extreme and absurd, and on the whole I found the jokes a lot less subtle. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword since I’ve always preferred my humor on the understated side, i.e. less overt and in-your-face, but I also can’t deny that when G.S. Denning does silliness, the results work a lot better for me.
More importantly, the increase in madcap humor is also balanced out by the darker, more macabre moments. There are more of those in this sequel as well, as the series is in the process of maturing in story scope and content. This is most obvious in “The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles”, based off of perhaps one of the most well-known Sherlock Holmes stories, and I am happy to report Denning does it justice. Giving depth to Warlock by filling in some of the details behinds his tragic backstory, we are gradually built up to a suspenseful climax filled with some pretty shocking twists.
The characters are generally more developed in this second installment, and I continue to enjoy their hilarious interplay. The premise of the series is that Holmes is actually a witless buffoon who couldn’t solve his way out of a paper bag if it weren’t for Watson’s levelheaded assistance, and it’s a joke that hasn’t worn out its welcome yet. In fact, the Warlock/Watson dynamic is better than ever, with their personalities playing off each other in more complex, meaningful ways. I really enjoyed the revelations into their friendship at the end of book, and I hope that Denning will continue exploring this aspect in the next installment.
Honestly, there’s not much left for me to say except I’m completely addicted to this series, and here’s hoping I won’t have too long to wait until my next Warlock Holmes fix! I’ll be waiting on pins and needles to see what Denning has in store for us in book three.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of A Study in Brimstone (Book 1)