Endings are always difficult. Wrapping up a series based on someone else’s original work, doubly so (a fact all Game of Thrones fans learned the hard way this year). This book concludes Lovegrove’s trilogy of placing Holmes into a Lovecraftian universe and the results are not that great.
The fist difficulty is with the source material. Doyle only returned to Holmes reluctantly, and the stories of Holmes towards the end did not have the same energy or enthusiasm as the earlier works. Yes, Lovegrove incorporates some of the elements from the later Holmes stories, such as beekeeping, but it feels tired at this point.
There is an attempt to wrap up some loose threads from other stories, such as the snake men that had been released into London but the resolution there seemed too deus ex machina, involving the creation of another Crown to control the snake men. If Holmes had designed such an artifact, why had he not used it earlier when he suspected the snake men had become much more active?
The ending is where the story really falls apart and is reminiscent of the August Derleth stories in the Lovecraft universe. By that I mean that the Elder Gods are essentially divided into sides, one fighting for humanity and one trying to destroy us. This runs counter to everything Lovecraft established as we are far too insignificant for them to notice us in the original material. And Lovegrove continues in the same style as Derleth.
Cthulhu is finally revelaed and confronted by Moriarty, who has taken on the power of a God. While he states that his confrontation with Cthulhu will be one that is primarily fought on the mental or astral plane, he plans to sue a physical attack (using dynamite) to distract Cthulhu. This thread is quickly forgotten and devolves into a kaiju-like encounter between Cthulhu and Moriarty, with his allies attacking Cthulhu mentally completely forgotten.
Making matters worse, it is then revealed that Holmes made a deal with Cthulhu and held part of his essence which then turned the tide in the Elder God’s favor. Putting aside the notion that Cthulhu would even ever acknowledge the existence of any human, why would Holmes, who knows that the Elder God is, at best, disinterested in mankind and, at worse, inimical to us, ever help him? It is literally making a deal with the devil and that never turns out well.
I really enjoyed the first two parts of this series and would encourage fans of Lovecraft or Holmes to check it out. But skip this last one.