Review: John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray

present-tensions“If your man is more dangerous than the late Professor Moriarty, or than the living Colonel Sebastian Moran, then he is indeed worth meeting. May I ask his name?”

— Sherlock Holmes

Before one reads John Linwood Grant’s A Study in Gray (18thWall, 2016), one might want to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Illustrious Client” (1924). It’s among the last of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales, the one from which my epigraph comes. Grant continues Doyle’s story in A Study in Gray, using that earlier, loosely resolved case to pull the great detective out of apiarian retirement and into Grant’s own world of supernatural espionage. This more occult realm of intrigue — along with its lead characters: Captain Redvers Blake, Abigail Jessop, and Henry Dodson — exist in Grant’s The Last Edwardian series.

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Review: Josh Reynolds’ The Whitechapel Demon

present-tensions“He was shot, staked through the heart and buried at a crossroads, after the burning of Columbia. . . . Or he might’ve gone to San Francisco.  No one really knows.”

This passage has next to nothing to do with the main plot of Josh Reynolds’ delightful novel The Whitechapel Demon (Emby Press, 2013). It’s fairly telling of the work’s tone, though, which manages to balance the dark and gruesome with the light and witty. And this entertaining tone strikes me as one of Reyonds’ greatest strengths as a writer, his ability to make a reader cringe on one page and then snicker on the next.

Those comic moments are particularly welcome, given that the story’s primary villain is a demonic doppelgänger of no less than Jack the Ripper. I say primary villain because there are variations on villainy in this story, some of which are entirely human.

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