Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Martian Menace
The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
BY Eric Brown

Titan Books
11 February 2020/ ISBN 9781789092950
Mystery / Historical

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 


Anybody 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…

I 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 and steampunk.

There 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…?

London 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 This is more than fifty years out of date and does not sit well with a more “modern” world due to Martian intervention.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!

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2019