The book starts with Hilary De Montfort, leaving his club after a lucky evening gambling, on to be seen a short while later, desperately running away from something only he can see. When his crushed body is discovered in the middle of a London square it is unclear who or what may have killed him.
Shortly afterwards Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are visited by Dr. John Silence who tells them a strange story about a possessed little girl. A story that fails to convince Sherlock Holmes.
Holmes is fascinated by De Montfort’s death though and when soon afterwards another man, who belonged to the same occult society, also dies under very mysterious circumstances, Holmes interest is peaked.
Soon Silence, Watson and Holmes find themselves on a train to Inverness to consult with Aleister Crowley. While on the train Watson finds himself witnessing a very distressing supernatural phenomenon which turns out to be the first of many.
Once in Inverness, Holmes goes of to conduct investigations on his own, while Watson travels with Silence and Thomas Carnacki, supernatural investigator, to Crowley’s house where they are also joined by Julian karswell, a runic expert. Crowley seems to be under nightly attacks from supernatural forces and Watson soon finds himself not only converted into believing in the supernatural, but also joining forces with the other men to fight the horrors they face.
When Holmes joins the men in Crowley’s estate they decide that the real threat lies in London, which may face a supernatural attack on the very start of the twentieth century. Will these 6 men be able to stop the forces of evil, or is there, after all, a logical explanation for everything Watson has been experiencing?
This was a fascinating excursion into the world of Sherlock Holmes. Guy Adams has stayed close enough to Conan Doyle’s original way of telling the stories to make this a very plausible addition. At the same time, he takes things one step further than the creator of Sherlock Holmes used to do. This is one mystery where logic will not explain all, where even Holmes has to admit that there may be things even he can’t quite rationalise, or can he? Watson and the reader are left wondering what exactly did and did not happen, although Holmes does supply an explanation even for that.
I think I might have enjoyed this book more if I had been familiar with the stories in which Silence, Carnacki and Karswell originated. I probably missed out on some references that would have been obvious to people with such familiarity. That lack in background information didn’t lessen my reading enjoyment though. I read this story in a single day and almost in a single sitting in what was a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.