“A Study in Emerald” — Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s most recent novel, The Graveyard Book, won the prestigious Newbery Medal, given to great works of children’s literature. Other books include American Gods, Coraline, and Anansi Boys, among many others. In addition to his novel-writing, Gaiman is also the writer of the popular Sandman comic book series, and has done work in television and film. His novels Coraline and Stardust were recently made into feature films.

A central character in Lovecraft’s fictional world is the evil extraterrestrial god Cthulhu, described most fully in the story “The Call of Cthulhu.” Cthulhu, octopus-headed and dragon-winged, was imprisoned on Earth long ago in the underwater city R’lyeh, where he exists in a state of undeath, transmitting his otherworldly dreams to certain psychically sensitive individuals, some of whom have sworn to serve him when the stars are right and Cthulhu rises to conquer the world. In Lovecraft’s fiction, such a cataclysmic event always lies in our future, but this next story presents an alternate reality in which such monsters have dominated humanity for centuries. This version of England saw not a Norman conquest but a Lovecraftian one, and these strange creatures have established themselves as monarchs around the globe. Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes adventure was called A Study in Scarlet, in reference to a bloody murder. The title “A Study in Emerald” also refers to a bloody murder, albeit one involving an entirely different sort of victim and an entirely different sort of blood. This is a world darker and stranger than our own, and this is a case that will pose quite a challenge to a certain detective and his loyal sidekick.