"Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys" Book Review
Written by Chris Wood
2010, 148 pages, Fiction
Released on December 22nd, 2010
With a book titled Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys you kind of know what you're getting into. This isn't going to be a boring trip through Merry Olde England like some Jane Austen novel. This is going to be fun.
SHATFZDM (as the cool kids refer to it) actually contains a few stories. The main one is the bit about the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys and pieces of it are carried throughout the rest of the tales collected here. This first case finds Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson conveniently in the building as members of the British Parliament suddenly turning into bloodthirsty flying simians. This might not seem like much of a difference to your average Brit, but it can certainly ruin your day if one of these guys swoops down from above and takes a bite out of your scalp. Holmes and his trusty sidekick Watson make it out alive but this plague is still going on, so the pair of them try to make due the best they can.
The other stories collected here are A Scandal in Burnley, The Pain of the Pianoforted Parts, and The Mystery of the Speckled Wang. Throughout all of them, the flying zombie death monkeys are still soaring about and occasionally eating people on the street. The people of England have seemed to grow accustomed to this new threat to their lives though.
These titles are definitely pretty silly and there was a huge chance of this idea falling flat. Fortunately author Chris Wood is able to keep the book entertaining while putting his tongue firmly in his cheek. The humor is quick and witty like something you'd see from the Marx Brothers or Naked Gun. Many times jokes are made so fast that you might not even notice them at first. Wood pokes fun at clichés and other phrases while keeping the pace moving. Holmes and Watson are also aware that they're in a book or, at the very least, that a story is being told about them. This makes them hurry things along at certain points because they know the audience is expecting an ending.
Throughout the book, Wood has included pictures that I can only assume are from old Sherlock Holmes stories. He's provided funny captions, though. These include things like "The villain ran away from the plot." They rarely have anything to do with the actual story so sometimes they feel a little out of place.
SHATFZDM also suffers from poor editing that actually gets worse as the book progresses. The first couple of stories are almost flawless with very little in the way of errors. The last story is packed with them, though, and really hurt the read. I really can't stress how important a decent editor is in publishing. If you don't have a publisher, at least get a few people to read through the book for you and point these things out. I'm not talking about misspellings here. Mostly it's an instance of using the wrong word. You meant to type "him" but you typed "he" and now your sentence doesn't make any sense. These are things that Microsoft Word wouldn't catch.
Aside from those small issues, Sherlock Holmes and the Flying Zombie Death Monkeys is a very fun read. I've never read a Sherlock Holmes book, but I think it's safe to say that they're a lot drier and more boring than this one. Somehow I don't see Holmes pulling out a wheelbarrow to toss in his rich client's money in the original tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That's what makes this such a find. Plus I'm glad that Wood was able to craft these stories with a classic character without making it dry. I couldn't get through Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because Pride and Prejudice is a boring book and all the author did was add a couple passing references to the undead. Not so here. You've got a book where the spooky stuff is right up front and Wood is there to stick his tongue out at it.