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Book Note: Michael Kurland, The Infernal Device and Others

I read this book about 24-Aug-2001. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 1978. This note was last modified Saturday, 19-Aug-2006 10:44:28 PDT.

This note does not contain major spoilers for the book.


This is an omnibus edition of The Infernal Device (1978), Death By Gaslight (1982), and The Paradol Paradox (2001).

I'm very fond of the actual Sherlock Holmes stories, that is, the ones by Sir Arthur Conon Doyle. I haven't looked extensively at what are commonly called "Holmes pastiches", because the few I've looked into have been quite disappointing to me. Usually the authors don't have the flavor of the characters or the period. Why, then, am I trying these? Well, Michael Kurland should be able to do a little better on the writing and characters, and these are actually Professor Moriarty stories, so he's not dealing nearly so heavily with another writer's characters.

The Infernal Device was pretty good. The last few chapters got better. I liked having Holmes emotionally committed to Moriarty being a villain, and messing up some of the big problem because of it. And I wouldn't want to launch fireworks from a hydrogen balloon!

The Paradol Paradox is a much shorter work, and also very nicely done. Nice crazy doctor. Nice view of the courtesan's underworld.

Death by Gaslight is another full-length novel. In this one we actually learn someting of of the details of a crime Moriarty commits; however, it's somewhat spoiled by his having done it (it turns out) in a good cause (keeping Indian treasures in India). There are actually three mysteries, one of them quite independent, all good. And once again Sherlock Holmes appears as a bit of a buffoon, and mostly working towards the same ends as the professor. There's also a very nasty re-emergence of the Hellfire club (whose BDSM is consensual on only two out of the three levels, and very much not on the third).

These were fun. The relationship between Moriarty and Barnett is rather nicely done, and Moriarty is less uptight than Holmes (the real Holmes, I mean). I think he's used to sneak modern attitudes in; after all he's out of step with his society. I'll at least think about getting the new book in the series.

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David Dyer-Bennet