Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon: New Excerpt by James Lovegrove

Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon is the new Sherlock Holmes novel from James Lovegrove, the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Odin and Firefly: Big Damn Hero. Read on for an excerpt and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon.

Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon

James Lovegrove

October 22, 2019

Our train rattled out of King’s Cross shortly after ten the next day, bearing us northward to York. Overnight, clouds had set in over London and the Midlands and yet again snow had begun to fall heavily. Fat flakes flurried past the carriage windows, mingling with the smoke from the locomotive’s funnel to create a flickering, chiaroscuro whirl of white and grey outside.

Some thirty minutes into the journey Holmes remarked that we were making good time, in spite of the conditions. “We are travelling at a mean speed of sixty-eight miles an hour,” he said.

“How on earth can you tell?” I asked.

He put away his half hunter, which he had been consulting. “Simple. The standard length of a piece of rail track on the Great Northern Railway is sixty feet precisely. The wheels beneath us make a distinct clack every time they cross the join between one rail and the next. The clacks are occurring at a rate of approximately a hundred per minute. The rest is pure arithmetic. One may make a similar calculation using the trackside telegraph poles, but at night, or on a day like today when visibility is so poor, the rail-length method is more practical.”

Having changed at York for the Scarborough line, we pulled in at Bridlington station some three quarters of an hour later. A brougham awaited us out front, along with a taciturn coachman who, in a thick Yorkshire brogue, ventured the following greeting: “Mr ’olmes and Dr Watson? Miss Eve has sent me ter tek thee ter Fellscar. Put thah bags on’t back, gentlemen, and ’op in. Thah’ll find blankets on the seats ter wrap thissen in.”

The snow had by now stopped falling but lay thick all around. The brougham trundled through white-blanketed countryside, its wheels and the horse’s hooves making scarcely a sound on the road. The gently undulating landscape was parcelled up by drystone walls, which were mostly buried under snowdrifts. Here and there a tree strained upward from the ground, seeming to claw the overcast sky with its bare branches. We passed the occasional mean-looking, half-derelict dwelling – a croft, a smallholding – which if not for the skein of smoke rising from its chimney would have appeared uninhabited.

Then the road dipped down through a valley. At a junction, I spied a fingerpost pointing to Yardley Cross, but we took a different, unmarked route along a narrow track, and presently, as the brougham crested the brow of a hill, Holmes and I gained our first glimpse of Fellscar Keep.

I cannot say I was filled with any great joy, for the castle, huge as it was, seemed eminently forbidding. I had had little idea what to expect, but it surely was not this rambling agglomeration of black stone topped by an equally black slate-tiled roof. The edifice, built in the Gothic Revival style, had neither symmetry nor elegance. The windows were small and mean, and the battlements lofty and teeming, topped with toothsome crenellations. Wing abutted against wing, showing, to my mind, no obvious plan – a collision of irregular geometric shapes such as a child might make with wooden building blocks.

In all, the castle looked not to have been constructed so much as to have grown, coral-like, from the lake island upon which it perched and whose surface it fully covered. Ribbons of snow lying atop lintels, eaves, copings and buttresses did something to soften the stark cheerlessness of it all, but not much.

The track wound downward through woodland, emerging from which we had a much better view of the castle. Nearer to, however, Fellscar Keep was only the more oppressive-seeming. It loomed gracelessly against the glowering sky, as though its architect desired any who came before it to feel small. Its overall demeanour was that of a brooding, hulking thug challenging all comers to engage in fisticuffs.

As the brougham approached the gateway that afforded access to the causeway connecting the castle to land, a gunshot resounded from close by. Our horse, startled, bucked within the traces, and the coachman cried out, “Whoa there!” and was obliged to steady the beast with a tug on the reins and a tap of the whip.

A second gunshot followed, louder than the first, and the anxious nag came to a complete halt, whinnying.

As Holmes and I peered out of the cab windows, we saw a pair of men stride out from the woods to the left of us. Each was dressed in tweeds and bore a double-barrelled 12-gauge shotgun – a Purdey, if I did not miss my guess. Neither, I noted, was carrying his weapon broken as he ought.

They walked towards the four-wheeler with a purposeful air, and I, overcome by a growing unease, wished that my service revolver was immediately to hand, rather than outside the brougham, packed in my holdall on the back. Holmes, sensing my agitation, patted my arm.

“We are in no imminent danger,” said he. “Do you not recall Miss Allerthorpe telling us that her father and uncle go out shooting together? These two, I am certain, are they, indulging in that very pastime. Their age and dress marks them out as wealthy landowners, while their self-confident bearing announces that they are masters of their domain, with every right to be here.”

“Yet they fired their guns, when they must surely have seen us coming,” I said. “They knowingly frightened the horse. That bespeaks hostile intent, does it not?”

He shook his head. “A certain casual meanness, perhaps. I believe that you and I are being greeted in a manner meant to intimidate. Let us not give these fellows the satisfaction of thinking they have succeeded.”

Copyright © 2019 James Lovegrove

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove!

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Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 22, 2019. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 a.m. ET November 5, 2019. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10010.

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  1. Mary Kearney

    I would enjoy reading this.

    • Katherine Evans

      Our attention was captured almost immediately. The description of the castle made us wish we had the ability to travel to places far and wide, if for no other reason, then to be able to smell the winter air. We can’t wait read it.

  2. John Smith

    What a festive and demonic cover!

  3. Jackie

    I’m so ready to read this, count me in please.


    I would love to read this ‘new’ author thanks

  5. Gordon Bingham

    Longtime fan of both Holmes pastiches and Lovegrove’s work. What’s not to like?

  6. michelle otten

    Literally just finished Lovegrove’s Cthulhu Casebooks last night. I’ve been a fan of his Holmes stories since I first read The Thinking Engine. Excited to see there is a brand new book available!

  7. Jon B

    Look forward to adding this to my TBR shelf!

  8. Michelle Willms

    I enjoyed the excerpt and would love to read the rest.

  9. Patrick Ewing

    Just started reading it. It’s wonderful.

  10. Tiffany

    This looks great

  11. paul klumbach

    Anything with Sherlock has to be a wonderful read.

  12. Kathy Gilbert

    Looking forward to reading

  13. Marie

    I would love to read !

  14. Mayrlene Thompson

    Would love to win.

  15. Maureen E Keimig

    Just reading the excerpt has already drawn me in…look forward to reading the book.

  16. Sherry Murray

    This book sounds amazing! I would love to win a paperback copy to read the rest. I’ve never read any of your books but this one would be a start

  17. Jennifer

    Sounds interesting!

  18. Christine Robinson

    Sounds like an interesting read. I will put this on my to be read list.

  19. Jerry Lafferty

    Im in, my kinda reading enjoyment

  20. Phyllis Gaumond

    I haven’t read anything by James Lovegrove but I love Sherlock Holmes stories.

  21. Nancy Chytka

    Will be sure to suggest to the local library’s purchasing dept.

  22. Amy Lilly

    I love James Lovegrove’s Sherlock series. Fingers crossed!

  23. Geraldine Marshall

    Ready to read for Christmas!

  24. Portia Asher

    I need a good Sherlock Holmes story..this book may be it!

  25. Elsa nystrom


    • Elsa nystrom

      Intriguing opening would enjoy reading it.

  26. Gary Rejsek

    Love Mr. Holmes

  27. Barbara Kirsch

    Very interesting has captured my interest!

  28. James Becker

    Looks like an enjoyable read. Great setup!

  29. Maureen Wynn

    Anything with Holmes and Watson is worth reading! And a Christmas setting is a nice bonus.

  30. Helen Geng

    Lovely cover, great Sherlock, new-to-me author!

  31. Rebecca Brothers

    Christmas with Holmes and Watson? Nothing better than that!

  32. Patti Scott

    Yes please ☺

  33. Heather Hedden

    Sherlock is absolutely my favorite fictional character of all time! My son even named his pet mouse Sherlock. Unfortunately he was murdered, we solved this crime quickly…the dachshund did it!

  34. Karen Mikusak

    Looks great! Would love to win.

  35. Linda Semler

    Thank you for the opportunity

  36. Gail Coulson

    Love the writing and the descriptions. Look forward to reading this new Holmes novel.

  37. Glen Davis

    Sherlock HOlmes is always worth reading!

  38. Anne

    Captivating and fascinating. Sherlock Holmes is always riveting.

  39. Pearl

    Vivid descriptions and unique feature. Thanks.

  40. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  41. Raquel Crider

    This sounds like a great read

  42. Karen Parisot

    This excerpt has me wanting to read the rest of the book! Absolutely love Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

  43. Pammela Poels

    Cannot wait to read this new take on Sherlock!

  44. Dayle Huber

    “The game is afoot!” By all means include me in the chance to win this book!

  45. Bev Hopoi

    Wow! Sherlock for Christmas. After reading this tiny snippet ican hardly wait for the whole package.

  46. Rebecca Smith Griffin

    Ok I am going read it

  47. Paul Gada

    Love Sherlock.

  48. Maureen Downing

    Hi guys! Just love the Criminal Element newsletter and would love to read this take on Sherlock Holmes!

  49. Patricia R DuMont

    From the first few sentences I could tell that this would be a great read.

  50. Joseph Layer

    It’s on my “to read” list!

  51. John Davis

    It’s all there. Remarkable calculations of travel time based on ‘data’ which others would never notice. Broughams, mysterious gunshots, and strange relations all meld together to make this a real want-to-read Sherlockian true book! The Game’s Afoot!

  52. Laurie Harris

    Ooh, this sounds like a great one! Fingers crossed

  53. Michael Carter

    I’d love to win this title.
    Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.

  54. JayR

    I loved James Lovegrove’s Firefly book and I would definitely love to read his take on Sherlock Holmes.

  55. amhufft

    I’m definitely interested. Very captivating.

  56. amhufft

    So captivating! Very interested in reading this one

  57. Sheryl Sens

    Oh I’m totally intrigued! Thank-you for this excerpt!

  58. Lori P

    Very evocative. Got shivers up my spine!

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  60. Lois A Becker

    I Love Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I would love to be able to win this to read. Thank you for the chance.

  61. Jackie Basnight

    I just love a Christmas mystery. Sherlock Holmes has always been my favorite sleuth. Thrilling indeed.

  62. DebP

    I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan ever since I was a teen. I’m always up for a new Sherlock story.

  63. Douglass Abramson

    Holmes sounds like a good Christmas guest

  64. Pat Mickel

    Our book club is always looking for a good Christmas book. This sounds perfect. The excerpt catches your attention right away; we can’t wait to read the rest.

  65. Traci Rowenhorst

    I do love a good Sherlockian mystery and James Lovegood is the man for the job! I have a few of his books and enjoy them immensely. Looking forward to this one!

  66. Jennifer Doucet

    I was sucked in from the very beginning. I love Sherlock mysteries and can’t wait to find out more.

  67. Jeremy Lynn Carter

    Would definitely like to read this.

  68. M Thompson

    Love Sherlock Holmes mysteries, love Christmas season, so this book would be the perfect combination!

  69. Nina

    I love this cover! Thanks for the chance!

  70. Sarah Kay

    I’ve always loved Sherlock and Christmas! The two together is amazing. Would be a perfect read for the holiday.

  71. Rose Jones

    Sherlock Holmes–one of the first introductions to me along with Christie and Poe stories.

  72. Diana Hardt

    It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for the chance.

  73. Laura Lovejoy- Brunk

    You had me at “Sherlock”….

  74. Linda Flickinger

    Love Sherlock Holmes. This looks like it might be a good one!

  75. Shonna Houser

    Seems like a interesting Sherlocking style story.

  76. Ruth Bousquet

    Would love to read/win, sounds intriguing, thank you.

  77. Saundra K. Warren

    I’ll have to read this!

  78. Valerie H

    Sherlock Holmes!! BEST detective….and Christmas…well count me in for a good read!!

  79. Susan Morris

    I’m always up for a new Sherlock novel. Thank you for the review and giveaway!

  80. Ruth F

    Look forward to reading this new Sherlock Holmes story. A Sherlock Holmes Christmas is better than a Hallmark Christmas!

  81. Sally Schmidt

    Interesting excerpt, would like to read to see how this visit turns out.

  82. Pamela Ringham

    Oh how I would love to be able to curl up with this book during the upcoming Christmas holiday, next to the fireplace with my coffee while the wind howls & the snow swirls outside.

  83. Margaret E

    One can never have too much Sherlock Holmes.

  84. Janice Milliken

    Intriguing excerpt!

  85. Gilbert Bardsley

    Looking forward to the sequel in the Cthulhu Casebook series!

  86. Lezlie Crump

    Can’t wait to read the rest! Intriguing.

  87. Pat Murphy

    Have never read Lovegrove. This sounds like a great one to start with. Perfect for a winter read.

  88. Jane Schwarz

    I love a good Sherlock Holmes mystery. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of “Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon”.

  89. Susan Shanno

    I thoroughly enjoyed this excerpt and would enjoy reading this book.

  90. lynsey hanky

    I love sherlock homes always a mystery can’t wait to read this book.

  91. Janet Gould

    I can’t wait to read this.

  92. Linda Revier

    Sherlock lives on!! Looks intriguing.

  93. Tawney Mazek

    Ah, to tuck one’s legs up on the sofa, sip the cider and get lost in Holmes’ doings – yes, count me in.

  94. Ronald Roseborough

    Any chance to spend an evening reading a Sherlock Holmes tale is a treasure.

  95. Travis Johnson

    Sherlock, I’m in

  96. Denah

    In my “Word if the Day” email I just learned what crennalations are. How fortuitous.

  97. Elena

    I love everything Sherlock Holmes! Thanks for the chance =)

  98. tntib

    “Sherlock Holmes”, you say? count me in!!

Comments are closed.

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