The City And The City by China Mieville
Even though Arthur Conan Doyle was a well-known occult writer, he had to keep Sherlock Holmes, his most famous creation, grounded in reality. Doyle couldn’t weaken his popularity by giving Holmes a number of occult and fantastic cases to solve. This book takes care of that.
Watson was severely injured, and should have died, while serving with the British Army in Afghanistan. He was saved by a blue djinn who exacts a price from Watson for his help. Years later, while solving a case of what looks like suicide by crossbow, Watson suddenly stabs Holmes with an arrow. In his death throes, "Holmes" turns into the blue djinn who saved Watson’s life years before.
During World War II, Holmes is in a California nursing home. The damage to British morale would be too severe if he should be killed by the Nazis. Holmes helps a local detective discover how a man can be shot three times, twice in the chest and once in the head, and walk away. It has to do with the importation of fifty pine boxes from Romania, filled with vampires willing to work for the Allies.
In other stories, Holmes and Watson meet up with two famous literary occult detectives, Flaxman Low and Thomas Carnacki. Holmes is very much of a realist; no matter how weird and occult things may seem, there is usually a rational explanation. But he does not totally dismiss un-rational explanations.
I really enjoyed these stories. They are well done, and they are nice and weird without being too weird. Holmes fans will love this book, and so will occult fiction fans.
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