who has read H G Wells’ War of the Worlds will know
of the Martian invasion in 1894. Six years later the Martians
were back, only this time coming in peace and telling of the
tyrannical rulers (now overthrown) who had instigated the
first violent invasion. By 1910, Martians are a common sight
and their tripods are everywhere. They have brought Earth
many advances and wonders, but is all it seems? Sherlock Holmes
has come out of retirement and is back at 221B Baker Street
with Watson when they are called to investigate the murder
of the Martian ambassador…
have read quite of a few of Titan Books’ usually excellent
Sherlock Holmes novels, but this is my first by Eric Brown.
It certainly won’t be my last, and I will shortly be
obtaining as many of his other books as possible if the standard
shown here is any example. This really does have to be my
favorite yet, combining classic SF with Conan Doyle’s
sleuths and managing it with eloquence and style. This is
real rip-snortin’ old school stuff that makes you think
of the type of stories you might have read in story magazines
back in the early 20th century and recalls both Wells, Verne
are surprises at every turn and H G Wells even appears, along
with Professor Challenger. Holmes and Watson get to visit
Mars, solve mysteries and… but to say too much more
would spoil the story. This unfolds after starting small with
one murder and takes the reader into more than one genre via
one of the most page-turning plots I have read for some time.
Watson narrates in fine style, and the result is that rare
thing: a sequel to a classic work that is actually good, building
on what we know and asking what if…?
and Mars spring to vibrant life with some imaginative descriptions,
but Mr Brown does need to research his historical costume.
The heroine is described more than once as wearing a crinoline
and there is even a mention of women in bonnets. This is more
than fifty years out of date and does not sit well with a
more “modern” world due to Martian intervention.
But this minor gripe is the only fault in an otherwise superb
adventure I was sorry to finish. The highest praise I ever
give a book is to say that it is “hugely enjoyable”
and often more than a year will pass with me not finding anything
worthy. Hugely enjoyable!