Sexton Blake was pretty much the B team detective to Sherlock Holmes and his adventures were transcribed for the edification of young boys (of all ages) from 1893 to 1968 by a range of authors. Michael Moorcock enjoyed catching up with Sexton’s adventures in dusty old 1920s copies of Union Jack magazine when he was a lad. In The Metatemporal Detective he has produced a wonderful homage to the ripping yarns he enjoyed in his childhood by recording the adventures of Sir Seaton Begg as he tracks his adversary Monsieur Zenith the albino through a range of parallel universes slightly different to our own. Along the way through the eleven stories written over 40 years which make up The Metatemporal Detective we learn about alternate worlds featuring a disunited America where Texas is an independent nation ruled by corrupt oligarchs; where electric cars and Zeppelins are the primary mode of transport in the absence of the internal combustion engine, and where Adolf Hitler meets an ignominious end in more than one timeline.
“They sat in silence for a little while, admiring the merry go round with its vividly painted horses rising and falling in comfortable regularity, circling to the tune of a complex steam-driven fairground calliope, as excited little boys and girls waved to waiting parents. The puppet theatre was yet to open and many of the children, Begg knew, would disappear into its darkness soon enough to witness the traditional bloody escapades of Guignol which had entertained French children for the past century or more.
It delighted Begg to see that the same diversions, which he had enjoyed as a boy were equally pleasing to this, the first generation of the new century.”