Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys (2010) Book Review
12 March 2011 No Comment
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Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys (2010)
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
Pretty bizarre title, isn’t it? Well guess what; it’s a pretty damn bizarre novel as well!! If you remember way back in June 2010 I reviewed a novel titled ASS GOBLINS OF AUSCHWITZ by Cameron Pierce. ASS GOBLINS was part of a sub-sub-genre called “Bizarro Fiction,” in which stories have a strong focus on weirdness. SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE FLYING ZOMBIE DEATH MONKEYS isn’t as crazy as a novel in the bizarro fiction genre, but it carves out it’s own niche as a truly original, fun book that reads like a b-grade, late night movie. Author Chris Wood takes the character and mythos of Sherlock Holmes and adds in a truly bizarre storyline, some very memorable supporting characters, and then shakes it all together. The result is a really fun read that will have you laughing out loud at a classic, iconic character.
The novel is told from the perspective of Dr. Watson. He tells us that he is chronicling the adventures of Holmes and that the stories in this book are “some of the more bizarre and unsettling adventures” of his famous boss. The main story is about the titular “Flying Zombie Death Monkeys” and the havoc they wreck on London. It seems that some evil genius has plans to create undead, flying simians in order to take over the country and rule London. Makes sense right? There are four other chapters here titled, “A Scandal in Burnley,” “A Pain of the Pianoforted Parts,” and “The Mystery of the Speckled Wang” (which is exactly what it sounds like). These four chapters read as though Wood wrote four separate stories and then did some minor editing in order to link them into one story. But this isn’t a criticism; all the stories are really fun and they all tie into the first story by incorporating those crazy flying zombie death monkeys.
We also get a new spin on the traditional Sherlock Holmes character. Personally I’ve never read any Sherlock Holmes novel and have never really been that interested in this classic character. But when ya throw in some flying zombie death monkey’s, well I become interested. Watson, though, gives us an “insiders” view of the famous detective. According to Watson Holmes is rather a bumbling “twat” who more often than not simply stumbles upon the solution to the various cases he’s working by accident. In one scene when a suspect they’re questioning is attacked by the zombie monkeys, Holmes turns to Watson and asks:
“Watson, you’re the medical man. How stand his chances?”
“Not great,” I was forced to admit. “You see the big hole in his head, where the brains are falling out? That’s not good.”
Watson, on the other hand, seems to be the more level-headed and brave of the two. He’s quick to draw his gun and quicker to shoot and worry about the consequences later. I really dug these two characters and the banter between them is pretty classic. No matter how many flying zombie monkeys are attacking them they always maintain their cool. And they would never let such a fierce attack interrupt their afternoon tea or bother them while enjoying a snifter of fine brandy.
Wood also fills this novel with memorable characters and scenes. For one, there’s a “Twattometer” which “is a most ingenious device that allows you to gauge the precise level of twattiness emitted by any particular person or action.” And when Watson turns the device on around Holmes it seems to go off the charts. There’s also a fellow, Oxley Featherstone Senior, who can play classical piano with his balls; another fellow, Maximillian Heathcote, who can play the tuba with his asshole; and scores of secondary characters more bizarre than the next.
What’s also fun here is that this book is completely self-referential. Watson seems to know he’s in a novel, a Victorian novel, and never misses a chance to remind the reader about this fact. In one scene, after thwarting off a vicious attack of the zombie monkeys with his pistol, Watson says:
“Luckily I remembered to bring an unfeasibly large amount of ammunition for a Victorian detective story. Incidentally, I have a chainsaw on order, and one will be sent round the moment it’s invented.”
These kind of quips are made consistently throughout the novel. Towards the end of the novel when the stage is set for a big showdown Watson notes, “Put like that, it did seem like one hell of an ending was on the way.” I thought these self-referential comments were really well-placed and added to the humor of the novel.
We do get some explicitly detailed zombie monkey attacks and there’s enough to satisfy the horror fan. But this is primarily a satire of the world-renowned detective and Wood really nails it. The writing is crisp with great descriptions, the dialogue is fast and quick-witted, and the stories, although they all focus on different cases, tie in nicely to the main story of the flying zombie death monkeys. If you’re looking for a different, bizarre-kinda novel that plays loose and free with a classical, iconic character then SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE FLYING ZOMBIE DEATH MONKEYS will be right up your alley. Well-written with fun stories, bizarre characters, and of course flying death monkeys, you’ll like the originality of this one. Definitely check it out.
Author: Chris Wood
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Zombie Mayhem: 3 out of 5 brains