Titan Books 2011
“I own I might have twirled my moustache. I know it’s a tiresome old look-at-me-I’m-a-roué stage gesture, but -dash it- I’ve got a moustache (a big one too), and it’s there for the twirling…If you don’t twirl the ‘tache then, you might as well not have whiskers at all.”
I must admit that I’ve only read two other books by Kim Newman so far (the other one being Anno Dracula) but I am totally on the verge of going into fangirl mode. I love this guy. Mr. Newman’s books are witty and just plain fun.
In Professor Moriarty, we follow the exploits of Sebastian “Basher” Moran as told by himself in journal format. Recruited by Moriarty, he is, essentially, a paid assassin.
The thing I love the most about this book is that it’s told from the point of view of the villain. Or rather, his henchman. Moran is a terrible person. He kills for sport (both animals and humans), he gambles and he chases women with no actual feelings for them beyond the physical. He’s repulsive. Yet, I couldn’t help but root for him and when he got into his inevitable scrapes, I didn’t actually want him to die. The fact that the entire book is narrated by him gives us insight into his personality and makes him somewhat human. Partially, at least.
His first assignment from Moriarty was to assassinate a man whom we might consider a “good guy”. A good ‘ol do-gooder cowboy from the wild west with a woman and child to protect. This was where things got awkward. I cringed, knowing it was going to be a case of only one or the other surviving. Since it was the beginning of the book and we were effectively in Moran’s journal, I was reasonably sure that he wouldn’t be killed off. I steeled myself for the inevitable and was surprised by the outcome. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that Mr. Newman kept me guessing until the end.
I was quite pleased to find out that Sherlock Holmes wasn’t mentioned until the last 30 pages of the book or so. I must confess that I’m not actually a Sherlock fan. I’ve only read one Sherlock book many years ago and it just didn’t interest me.
It’s quite possible that this book could be riddled with references to various Sherlock Holmes books/cases, but I would have no idea. I was able to enjoy this book thoroughly even though I possess little to no knowledge of Sherlock lore.
The one thing (and it’s a very small thing) that I didn’t like about this book were the end notes. Perhaps these contained references to the Sherlock lore which eludes me. I don’t know. I didn’t read them. When I’m doing research, I’m happy to read end notes and footnotes but I find it to be very jarring in a novel. When I’m reading, I don’t want to know that the author exists. For me, a story should be captivating and all-consuming. I’m all about escapism. I don’t want anything to interrupt the flow. In fact, I’ve been told (by a highly reliable source) that when I’m nearing the end of a book, I tend to shoot eye darts at people who try to talk to me. It’s probably true…
My point is that I don’t like distractions when I’m reading and certainly not from the author.
Overall, I can say that I have nothing but love for this book. Fun, action-y with no silly love triangles. I’m pretty easy to please.