?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
11 June 2012 @ 07:08 pm
The Hound of the D'Ubervilles by Kim Newman  























Ever wonder about that side of the coin?


There have been countless numbers of Sherlock Holmes pastiches of varying success since the Great Detective hit the literary scene. But there haven't been as many pastiches featuring Moriarty, Holmes' arch enemy and even fewer that really delve into his twisted, criminal world.

Following Conan Doyle's format, Kim Newman employs the use of a trusted (as much as possible anyway) colleague of Moriarty's to narrate the Napoleon of Crime's adventures. Colonel Sebastian Moran is the flip darkside version of John Watson in many ways. A wounded ex-army officer who comes to admire Moriarty for his supreme intellect who diligently chronicles the professor's nefarious adventures. Newman's Moran is a singularly amoral, base, violent individual who seemingly finds meaning in life by putting lives in danger, his own included. But like ACD's Watson who is often ill portrayed in adaptations and pastiches, Newman's Moran also possess a keen intellect in his own right and great competence when it comes to his area of specialty (killing things, mostly). His story with Moriarty begins much like Watson's with Holmes where circumstance throws them together and Moran, despite his sociopathic ways, is able to recognize Moriarty's genius and devotes himself fully to become the professor's most trusted employee. As one might expect, Moran's narration, while as wonderfully detailed and enthusiastic as Watson's, is significantly less genial and much more uncomplimentary (e.g. lots of waxing poetic on killing people; Irene Adler is less "the woman" and more "that bitch."). Moran's account of things also gives an interesting perspective on Sherlock Holmes that might well be much more realistic than the one we're used to from the adoring writings of Watson.

It's a testament to Newman's skill that he can write both Moran and Moriarty as basically evil men and yet still dig up moments that allow the reader to empathize with them. He even manages to slide in some back story for Moriarty that explains to a certain extent the man's obsession with numbers and the cultivation of his unflinching coldness toward humanity. He also infuses a lot of humor into Moran's writings which is something that I find was a bit lacking in ACD's stories. As much as I cringed at some of Moran's thoughts, he has unsentimental way of skewering people with his observation of their characters which was pretty refreshing at times.

The bulk of the book is comprised of short stories that detail Moriarty's "cases." All the titles borrow heavily from ACD's originals ("A Shambles in Belgravia"; "The Red Planet League") and a few of the cases borrow elements from the originals as well. And this is where I found Newman's writing a little irritating. There were several times I really wished he'd just written a set of original stories instead of making constant illusions to the original material that didn't really add up to much. The changes made to Irene Adler's character particularly stood out as thin. The only time things seemed to come together to some extent was when Newman finally looped in the Great Detective with his tale of "The Problem of the Final Adventure."

I'm not sure when it happened but somewhere around the 1st season of Sherlock, I got really obsessed with the idea of Sebastian Moran and was a bit crushed when the show never gave us a modernized version. Particularly given that the show named a one off character "Sebastian." We had Paul Anderson's portrayal in Guy Richie's last movie who played Moran like an extremely loyal, deadly wolf which jived pretty well with the characterization Newman does. I'm sort of hoping that some TV person out there is going to try and cash in on the last bit of this Sherlock Holmes frenzy and produce a TV adaptation of this book. With a few tweaks it could be pretty great.

Tags:
 
 
 
Astoundingly fond of avocados and rainy weather.: Sherlock_Heart+Mindguardian_chaos on June 12th, 2012 01:24 am (UTC)
I always love getting back story from the villain's POV. If a villain can't be fleshed out in such a manner, then the villain's probably not a very good one.

Moran's account of things also gives an interesting perspective on Sherlock Holmes that might well be much more realistic than the one we're used to from the adoring writings of Watson.

Oh? I have to say, you've piqued my curiosity. If Moran refers to Irene as "that bitch", then I can only imagine what he'd have to say about Sherlock!
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on June 12th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
If Moran refers to Irene as "that bitch", then I can only imagine what he'd have to say about Sherlock!

He never meets Holmes face to face and just comments on Moriarty's thoughts on the Great Detective. It's kind of amusing and sort of interesting because you really wonder if Holmes really isn't as clever as Moriarty states he is or if Moriarty is just saying that to make himself feel better.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson's cute noseawanderingbard on June 12th, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
Sounds like an interesting book. I don't know if it appeals to me, but it sounds cool. I'm a big fan of taking a known work and expanding on it or looking at it from another point of view. I really like all the Austen pastiches that take a look at what may have happened after the weddings.

Moran doesn't show up until The Empty House, which will be the first episode of series three, according to
Gatiss, who is writing it. We may yet get a Moran. I hope we do.
formerly lifeinsomniac: SherlockChaseScenejoonscribble on June 12th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
Moran doesn't show up until The Empty House, which will be the first episode of series three, according to
Gatiss, who is writing it. We may yet get a Moran. I hope we do.


Wheee! I wonder if they're going to make the Sebastian from "The Blind Banker" be Moran or just give us a brand new one. I suppose Sebastian isn't that rare a name.
The Writer They Call Tay: Sherlock: Lestrade shadesawanderingbard on June 12th, 2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
I'd have a hard time picturing Seb Wilkes as a sniper, but I wouldn't put it past Moffat & Co. to have planted things like that. There's also that theory going around that John shouts 'Sebastian!' at the beginning of A Study in Pink, during the nightmare sequence. I haven't decided whether I believe that or not.
formerly lifeinsomniac: WatsonCocktailjoonscribble on June 12th, 2012 03:11 pm (UTC)
Is Wilkes really BlindBanker!Sebastian's last name? Huh, I never knew.

There's also that theory going around that John shouts 'Sebastian!' at the beginning of A Study in Pink, during the nightmare sequence. I haven't decided whether I believe that or not.

I'd been told that as well but never got around to double checking it. My fannish research is slipping.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson's cute noseawanderingbard on June 12th, 2012 06:07 pm (UTC)
Is it weird that I know Seb's last name? It is, isn't it? It's weird that I know most of the things I know.

The shouting thing is here, for your convenience. I can sort of hear the 'Sebas' part, but i'm not sure about the 'tian'. I've also heard theories for 'the vest!', as in maybe John wasn't wearing his and that's why he was shot, or had taken it off or something.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on June 13th, 2012 03:16 pm (UTC)
Is it weird that I know Seb's last name? It is, isn't it? It's weird that I know most of the things I know.

It's fan diligence!

Thanks for the clip. I can only hear "the vest" actually. Although my hearing isn't the most reliable.

It would be interesting if the show went with the idea that John and Sebastian knew each other in the army. That seemed to be the case in the Guy Richie film which I'd sort of hoped would lead somewhere a bit more involved than it just being a throw away fact.
The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson giggleawanderingbard on June 13th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
It's fan diligence!

Aww, that's a sweet way of putting it. :p

I can't really hear the Sebastian myself. There's lots of disagreement in the notes. Someone heard 'hit the deck', someone heard 'the medic', someone heard 'Watson', etc. I don't even know I what I hear.

Yeah, there were a few things in the movie that I wish they'd gone into more detail with. I did enjoy that scene for Watson helping deduce, though. Tag-teaming Watson and Holmes pleases me.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on June 14th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
I can sort of hear "medic" but not "hit the deck." Unless whoever is yelling it is slurring the whole thing. Of course, it could just be an insensible shout that the sound people just decided to use.

I did enjoy that scene for Watson helping deduce, though. Tag-teaming Watson and Holmes pleases me.

I always appreciate smart!Watson. So I was pleased when he was able to figure out to away to reveal the imposter in the ballroom.
The Writer They Call Tay: BB: just a yoawanderingbard on June 14th, 2012 03:12 am (UTC)
One thing I will say for the Ritchie!Holmes movies is that they have the Holmes/Watson relationship to a tee. I love that Holmes trusts Watson enough to leave him on this very important task and that Watson pulls through. I think Downey and Law's real life friendship shows through a lot.