MICHAEL REAVES & JOHN PELAN, Editors – Shadows Over Baker Street. Del Rey / Ballantine, trade paperback, 2003.

   This collection of stories in which the Sherlock Holmes canon is expanded by apocryphal tales confronting the dean of intellectual detectives with H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos is probably one of those projects that sounded more promising in the proposal than it is has turned out to be in the execution.

   Holmes’ antipathy to the supernatural as a factor in his cases is well-documented and I rather think he would be embarrassed by the outlandish capers he is obliged to be engaged in to seek what is often a tentative solution to the Lovecraftian horrors intruding on his rational terrain.

   I’m certainly not opposed — as some fans of the genre are — to the use of supernatural elements in detective fiction (a use I feel can be documented throughout its distinguished history), but I’m not persuaded that this collection makes a strong case for Lovecraft’s particular, and very personal, chamber of horrors as a viable device for the crossover.

   This does not mean that I derived no pleasure from the collection. In small doses, over a period of time, the stories by a variety of authors such as 8rian Stapleford, Richard Lupoff, and Barbara Hambly afford a modicum of chills and thrills, albeit at times not far from the comically absurd. None of the stories has lingered with any particular resonance in my tattered memory, so I’ll just add that if you aren’t opposed to the supernatural in your short fiction and don’t find Lovecraft’s name a turnoff, you should have some fun with the stories.

   The wraparound jacket illustration by John Jude Palencar doesn’t make a good case for the monsters lurking between the book’s covers. (I was amused rather than horrified by the two creatures posing in the lower right hand comer of the front cover) but has one nice idea in the depiction of Sherlock Holmes as the Invisible Man. Come to think of it, that’s not such an inappropriate portrait since the traditional Holmes is largely absent from these stories.

— Reprinted from Walter’s Place #159, March 2004.