It is a well known contradiction in Holmesian circles that whilst Holmes espoused his disdain for the supernatural, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was busy being sucked deeper into an ectoplasmic nightmare which robbed him of some credibility at the time.
The Breath of God is set as Victorian England approaches the 20th century and sees ACD’s intrepid duo fight demons, mysterious forces and a handful of wicked criminals. A nice wee paradox.
Of course, the key question all throughout the story is: is the supernatural real or is it a trick?
Holmes is brought in on a case after a young man is killed while running away from an invisible force which leaves the victim’s battered body left with nary a bone intact – the breath of god. Then rumours of a cultish group (Golden Dawn) seeking to bring darkness to the world comes out and the clock starts ticking before all hell breaks loose, literally.
The case sees Holmes and Watson joined by Carnacki, Silence and Crowley – names which may be familiar to some. Author Guy Adams explains the recycling of these characters well in a series of notes at the end. The group journey from London to Inverness and back again in search of answers and only Holmes seems immune to the chaos being wrought. His logical mind and approach is in stark contradiction to the supernatural scientists and even Watson seems to have been won over as the undeniable presence of demons and djinn crash around him.
A thrilling finale in London’s growing underground system on New Year’s Eve sees Holmes and Watson stare death in the face once more and that question asked earlier hangs over the closing battle: is the supernatural real or is it a trick?
James A. Stewart