King and Klinger present Canonical offspring
by IlldressedVagabond on November 12, 2011This collection is the first by this pair of editors and it looks to be a winner. The stories are not necessarily about Holmes, but rather are all inspired by the sixty tales of the Canon. This has resulted in a complex mixture of tales. Properly speaking, none of these tales are pastiches, although some are about Holmes or Watson or other Canonical characters. They are not imitations of the Canonical tales written in the style of Doyle but instead are stories inspired by the sixty tales written by Doyle about Holmes.
“You’d Better Go in Disguise” is an intriguing short story by Alan Bradley that presents several odd twists and confused identities. “As to ‘an exact knowledge of London’” is a novella by Tony Broadbent. It is set in modern times and it tells of a wounded Army Doctor returning from service in Afghanistan who takes a long cab ride around London with a very knowledgeable cabbie. “The Men with the Twisted Lips” is a short story by S. J. Rozan. It presents an alternative and very interesting but not contradictory view of events in “The Man with the Twisted Lip.” “The Adventure of the Purloined Paget” is a novella by Phillip and Jerry Margolin that relates the offer for auction of a Paget drawing created for a lost, 61st Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle. The owner’s murder sparks serious Sherlockian analysis and deduction.
“The Bone-headed League” is a short story by Lee Child set in modern day London with an ardent student of The Canon being caught up in an investigation that echoes with the tone of “The Red-Headed League.” “The Startling Events in the Electrified City” is a novella that relates Holmes’ and Watson’s involvement in the assassination of President McKinley at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. It provides an excellent explanation of the political effects of this event. “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story” is an illustrated ‘commentary’ of uncertain length and content by Colin Cotterill. It does mention Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street several times (at least twice!) and is almost surely related to some sort of Sherlockian narrative, I think! “The Case of Death and Honey” is a short novella by Neil Gaiman that once more displays his true mastery of Sherlockian fiction. It mingles the story of old Gao’s mean and lazy bees and the old white ghost man with that of Professor Presbury and his experiments.
“A Triumph of Logic” is a short novella by Gayle Lynds and John Sheldon. It relates an unofficial investigation by a Maine lawyer and judge into the suicide of a court recorder. “The Last of Sheila-Locke Holmes” is a short story by Laura Lippman that relates a Holmesian episode in growing up for an eleven-year-old girl. “The Adventure of the Concert Pianist” is a short story by Margaret Maron that describes a joint investigation by Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson just prior to “The Adventure of the Empty House.” It also contains several interesting comments of one sort or another by Mrs. Hudson.. “The Shadow Not Cast” is a novella by Lionel Chetwynd about a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. It is brimming over with interesting characters, ideas and situations, topped off by a true Holmes sound-alike.
“The Eyak Interpreter” is a short story by Dana Stabenow that features her native Alaskan private detective, Kate Shugak, in a story reminiscent of “The Greek Interpreter.” “The Case That Holmes Lost” is a short story by Charles Todd. It tells of an instance where Doyle’s publication of a new Holmes story is snarled by a frivolous lawsuit brought against Holmes. The details are a bit confusing, but intriguing. “The Imitator” is a novella by Jan Burke that tells of the tribulations of a number of American veterans, including a Holmes imitator, just after WW-I. The characters are well-drawn and believable, as is their common understanding of one another across the decades. “A Spot of Detection” is a novella by Jacqueline Winsper that describes the first foray into detection by an American boy at school in England in the early 1900s. He is fortunate that he encounters a sympathetic police inspector.
This collection features efforts by a number of very talented authors. They take the tales and characters and the ideas of the Canon into new worlds and times and, in doing so, they demonstrate the truly timeless nature of the Canon and the Great Detective. Their detectives are the offspring of Doyle’s creation. The single problem I see with this collection seems to be that only the illustrated story and a few others present hopeful or pleasant endings. There doesn’t seem to be much humor, hope or happiness in this group of Sherlock-inspired tales, not even a comfortable seat by the fire with a glass.
Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, November 2011
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