Solaris, out July 14th
It’s the end of the 19th Century and in London Sherlock Holmes, the World’s Greatest Detective, with his faithful sidekick, Dr Watson, is called on to investigate a missing person case. This quickly turns into several similar cases and soon a name is heard – the Order of the Gash. What follows is an adventure that will go from London to Paris and down into the Pits of Hell as our heroes battle terrible forces for the future of humanity and the planet itself.
The thing with crossover novels like this is that they can be a tricky beast to get right. You can often end up with one strand being a lot stronger than the other, to the detriment of the story. Thankfully that is not the case here. What is clear from the off here is that Mr Kane knows his stuff. To start with you have a Sherlock Holmes story that could have come from the pen of Conan Doyle himself. Kane captures the essence of place, story and character perfectly. This is not a reinvention of Holmes, this is Holmes. And then…
And then we have the Order of the Gash, the Cenobites. What was already a great story takes a step up. Paul Kane is acknowledged (by Clive Barker himself, no less) to be one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes down to the Hellraiser universe – and it shows here. When the Cenobites and their servants on Earth appear the story gets gruesome, horrific – and feels very ‘Hellraisery’. Holmes, Watson and the varying Cenobites (no two the same) all feel as they belong on the same page, in the same story and that, for me, is quite an achievement. Also, the Cenobites (and the pseudo Cenobites – sorry, no spoilers) are not generic creatures. Each one feels like an individual and this is, yet again, where Paul Kane shines. They have names and are described in such visceral detail but still feel believable. Does it help to have prior knowledge of the Hellraiser series? Possibly, but I would not say it is essential.
So, at this point I should point out what didn’t work for me with the story – but I can honestly say I would be hard pushed to do that. Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell is a gem of a book that fits well into both Holmes and Hellraiser canon.
Verdict: After last year’s slightly underwhelming The Scarlet Gospels this is the book Hellraiser fans have been waiting for. 10/10