New e-book and audiobook fiction by Maxim Jakubowski, John Connolly and Nancy Holder
Jakubowski wrangles disparate talents to flesh out Sherlock Holmes' nemesis Moriarty; Connolly delves into unadulterated spookiness; and Holder novelises a recent film chiller
The Adventures of Moriarty
by Maxim Jakubowski (read by Toby Longworth)
"It is said the devil has all the best lines, and who are we to contradict this?" Save for the fact that traditionally the devil has all the best tunes, it is hard to counter Maxim Jakubowski's maxim (if not his belief that James Bond is less memorable than Oddjob). Jakubowski has commissioned 37 stories by writers great(ish) and small that address the suspicion most of us have that Professor James Moriarty is more charismatic than Conan Doyle's famous detective. Alison Joseph sets the pace for several Conan Doyle parodies with The Two-Body Problem. Alexandra Townsend's A Good Mind's Fate is one of several stories that rewind into Moriarty's past, thanks to a brave soul called Molly who has the courage to ask the "Napoleon of Crime" "Why did you decide to become a criminal?" Dynamics of an Asteroid turns a paper by the professor into an unsettling thriller. Whether narrating Moriarty or Holmes, Toby Longworth is utterly superb.
by John Connolly (read by various)
Hodder and Stoughton (audiobook)
When he isn't dreaming up the next instalment of his peerless Charlie Parker mysteries, John Connolly dabbles in the dark side. Of course, Parker himself is no stranger to supernatural visitations, but Connolly's Nocturnes offered a story collection of unadulterated spookiness. A decade on he has produced a sequel, Night Music. The ghosts of M.R. James and Jorge Luis Borges haunt the wonderful, award-winning novella, The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository, in which the otherwise uninteresting Mr Berger finds that fiction can come to life, but not without a little death. The Lamia suggests Connolly knows his gothic onions: a woman brutalised by her husband finds an otherworldly escape. There is historical fiction ( Razorshins, set during Prohibition), and in Lazarus fiction that evades time. I especially loved the one page chiller, A Dream of Winter. Its six paragraphs are more unnerving than Stephen King's past six novels. Put together. Fantastic.
by Nancy Holder(read by Imogen Church)
Audible Studios (audiobook)
Once upon a time, there was a strange beast called the novelisation. Movies were turned into admittedly terrible novels by basically sprucing up the script. I still have my Rocky IV by (it says) Sylvester Stallone. The form vanished in recent years, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Crimson Peak, currently wowing filmgoers everywhere, turned into a shortish audiobook by one Nancy Holder - apparently well known as a Buffy rewriter (nothing wrong with that, by the way). Edith Cushing is a successful novelist whose teenage years were haunted by her mother's ghost warning her to "beware Crimson Peak" - which just happens to be the name of her mysterious husband's ancestral estate. Imogen Church reads crisply - her crystal English tones are perfect to insinuate a sense of growing unease. If she strains at some of the male characters, it is a small gripe. But this, I imagine, will largely appeal to fans of the movie's director, Guillermo Del Toro (or Nancy Holder).