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Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D'Urbervilles is a short story collection by Kim Newman. It purports to be the memoirs of Colonel Sebastian Moran, trusted subordinate to Sherlock Holmes's favourite criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, from the day of their first meeting to that day of reckoning by the Reichenbach Falls. Moriarty and Moran are presented as a dark mirror of Holmes and his assistant/chronicler Dr Watson, living in similar circumstances and having adventures that echo the detective's famous cases (the title story being an obvious example). As is usual for Kim Newman, the stories feature guest appearances by many other fictional characters (the title story again being an obvious example).

Some of the stories have been previously published, including "A Shambles in Belgravia". Others, including the final story, are new to this collection.

Contents

  • Preface: by Professor Christina Temple of Birkbeck College, explaining how the manuscript came to light.
  1. A Volume in Vermillion: Colonel Moran takes employment with Professor Moriarty, and Moriarty is approached by a corrupt Mormon elder to deal with a group of fugitives from their brand of justice.
  2. A Shambles in Belgravia: The opera singer Irene Adler hires Moriarty to retrieve a set of photographs depicting her knocking about with a certain European nobleman.
  3. The Red Planet League: After a prominent astronomer publicly mocks Moriarty's magnus opus, The Dynamics of an Asteroid, declaring that the chances of anything coming from Mars are higher than the possibility that Moriarty's theory is accurate, Moriarty plots a terrible revenge.
  4. The Hound of the D'Urbervilles: The new heir to the estate of the D'Urbervilles is having trouble with uppity peasants and a mysterious and murderous blood-red hound, and hires Moriarty to sort them out.
  5. The Adventure of the Six Maledictions: Mad Carew, late of Her Majesty's Army, stole a holy artifact in Nepal and wants Moriarty to save him from the attendant curse. Moriarty's solution begins with seeking out five more cursed artifacts, including The Jewel Of Seven Stars and The Maltese Falcon.
  6. The Greek Invertebrate: Moriarty's brother drags him into a complicated tangle involving a giant worm and a group of psychic investigators who are none of them what they appear.
  7. The Problem of the Final Adventure: Moriarty's archenemy is on the verge of bringing his criminal empire down. Drastic measures are called for. "You know how this ends. Someone goes over a waterfall."
Tropes used in The Hound of the D'Urbervilles include:


 The newspapers had made a lot out of Dame Philomela's resemblance to a Disney cartoon villainess. I wondered if she didn't cultivate the effect.

  • Cerebus Syndrome: The earliest stories are comedies, with lots of broad parody, but the book as a whole has a gradual arc toward a more sombre, reflective tone.
  • Character Tic: Moriarty's neck movements.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The air gun Moriarty gives Moran for his birthday. Moran winds up murdering Moriarty with it at Reichenbach Falls, despite what Watson tells you...
  • Combat Haircomb: Ilse von Oberstein has a haircomb that's really a dagger.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Used both within the story itself (as a parody of the kinds of Victorian/Edwardian travel memoirs popular at the time) and in-universe as a part of the framing device. Prof. Temple draws attention to Moran's racism and homophobia in the introduction and endnotes, although she takes pains to note that Moran "especially loathed straight white male British Christians."
  • The Dragon: Moran to Moriarty.
  • Dreadful Musician: Irene Adler, according to Moriarty and Moran.
  • End of an Age: Moriarty gives a speech about this in "The Problem of the Final Adventure" as part of a Xanatos Gambit, but there's a more serious version in "The Greek Invertebrate," where the Forgotten Superweapon foreshadows World War One.
  • Evil Counterpart: Kim Newman loves this trope. A major theme of "The Problem of the Final Adventure" is the rise of opponents (good counterparts?) for the world's criminal masterminds. Irene actually refers to Watson as being in thrall to an "angelic mastermind," while Moran mentions that Holmes has the "Moriartian trait" of not sharing anything with his second-in-command.
    In a more straightforward manner, you have Prof. Moriarty as this for Holmes, Col. Moran for Watson, Mrs. Hallifax for Mrs. Hudson, the Conduit Street Comanche for the Baker Street Irregulars, and Col. Moriarty for Mycroft Holmes.
  • Evil Laugh: Moriarty rarely laughs, and when he does, it terrifies everyone around him (Moran included).

  Pigeons fell dead three streets away. Hitherto-enthusiastic customers in Mrs Halifax's rooms suddenly lost ardour at the worst possible moment. Vampire squid waved their tentacles. I quelled an urge to bring up my mutton lunch.

  • Evil Versus Evil: How do you get away with having a criminal mastermind and a murderous womanizing misanthrope as the protagonists? At least partly by crossing their paths with other people who are at least as unpleasant as they are.
  • External Retcon: There was a lot more going on during "The Final Problem" than Watson ever knew.
  • False Reassurance: Moriarty gives one to a client who stiffs him on the bill once the danger appears to be over. He promised Carew that he wouldn't be killed the priests of the yellow god; he didn't say anything about being killed by somebody else first...
  • For the Evulz: Moriarty loves crime for the sake of crime, even going into debt rather than give up an interesting problem. Moran also talks about how much fun and excitement crime can provide.
  • Foregone Conclusion: "You know how this ends. Someone goes over a waterfall."
  • Freudian Excuse: Moriarty and Moran are both revealed to have had unhappy childhoods with unpleasant fathers. Moran's was the usual sort of unhappy childhood for a man of his period and social class; Moriarty's was uniquely horrible.
  • Great White Hunter: Moran's claim to fame.
  • Historical Domain Character: H. G. Wells has a cameo in "The Red Planet League".
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Moran has (thwarted) plans to kill one kid's annoying little dog.
    • At one point, Moriarty pins a kitten to the fireplace mantel as part of a drug experiment.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo:
    • The Thin Man in Baker Street, and his brother, the Fat Man in Whitehall.
    • The Lord of Strange Deaths, and his daughter. Lampshaded in a footnote where Professor Temple says she knows his identity, "or at least the name he most commonly used", but has been warned that there are still people acting for him and it would be... inadvisable... to be spilling the beans.
  • Mad Mathematician: Professor James Moriarty considers crime a logical extension of his mathematical research.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Of Victorian and Edwardian fiction. Starts small, with one crossover each in the early stories, and builds up to things like the six maledictions and a secret meeting of all the supervillains of the period.
  • Master of Disguise:
    • Mabuse.
    • Usually subverted with Moriarty, whose successes in this area require people not to be paying much attention.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Besides Moriarty, you've got Fu Manchu, Nikola, and Mabuse. And Jack Quartz, but there are some doubts as to his actual qualifications. Stent (while less evil) may also qualify, considering his obvious pleasure at ruining the careers of his colleagues on "the List."
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Moriarty demonstrates in "A Volume in Vermilion" and "The Greek Invertebrate" that he's much, much stronger than he looks.
  • Mythology Gag: Far too many to list individually.
  • Not His Sled: Two people are proposed as Moriarty's archenemy over the course of the book; neither is Sherlock Holmes, whom Moriarty never regards as more than an occasional nuisance.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in "The Greek Invertebrate", which takes a famous continuity error from the Sherlock Holmes stories -- in which Professor Moriarty and his brother Colonel Moriarty are both named James -- and runs with it.
  • Precision F-Strike: An uncharacteristic one from Moriarty in "The Problem of the Final Adventure," when he realizes that they've been tricked into killing the wrong man.
  • Public Domain Character: Probably at least half of the characters in the book, including Moriarty and Moran.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "The Problem of the Final Adventure" has both Moriarty and Moran deliver rather nasty ones about the Thin Man. Not directly to his face, but their contempt for him and everything he represents is made abundantly clear.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Moriarty has one of his underlings permanently shipped off to Alaska as a warning to another underling who had been disrepectful but is, for the moment, too valuable to be dispensed with himself.
  • Running Gag: Every time the Vampires, a notorious French criminal gang, is mentioned, they've just got a new leader after the previous one died violently. This is a shout-out to their film serial of origin, Les Vampires, which burns through at least three head Vampires in the course of its ten episodes.
  • Sadistic Teacher: Moriarty drives one of his former students insane in "The Red Planet League." According to Moran, he also "slowly put a youth to death for misplacing a decimal point."
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: The cover illustration depicts Moriarty as a sinister silhouette with a gleaming monocle. (There is no mention of any monocles in the book itself.)
  • Sherlock Scan: Inverted for parody; when Moran first meets Moriarty, Moriarty appears to do this to Moran, rattling off all kinds of facts about him without being able to know them. Moran snottily points out that he's aware of this kind of technique. Moriarty then slaps him and informs Moran that anyone who needs to rely on this kind of trickery is, in Moriarty's estimate, a fool; Moriarty had, of course, bought, bribed and otherwise swindled everything he knew about Moran from others.
  • Shoot the Hostage: Moran does this in "The Greek Invertebrate" after the creator of a new superweapon is taken hostage. What his adversary has failed to realise is that Colonel Moran is appalled by the new weapon and perfectly happy for the secret of its operation to die with its creator.
  • Significant Anagram: Several characters in "The Red Planet League", particularly the purported King of the Martians, the Roi Marty.
  • Skunk Stripe: Dame Philomela Box has long black hair with a white streak. It's pointed out that, considering her age, it's likely to be a deliberate affectation achieved with black hair dye.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: James Moriarty, Sr., in a way. Inverted with Sir Augustus Moran, whom Sebastian apparently never cared about pleasing or honoring.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: The attitude generally taken toward the "Marsians". Moran notes that even people who "would be generally happier to see children whipped, starved, laughed at, shot and mounted in the Moran den than brook any abuse of their 'furry or feathered friends'" don't have any sympathy for things with tentacles.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: All of the stories parody the Holmes canon, with Holmes (the Thin Man) and Mycroft (the Fat Man) occasionally appearing as a Hero of Another Story.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Moran, under the right circumstances. But as we see in the title story, he's not impressed by men who beat up women for no reason.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Moriarty comments that the Thin Man's "usefulness is at an end," prior to meeting him at Reichenbach.
    • Moriarty also tells Moran that he intends to reweave his criminal web "unimpeded by fallible subordinates," which Moran, rightly or wrongly, interprets to mean that Moriarty is going to get rid of him.
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