A book for fans of Sherlock Holmes, science-fiction and fantasy. This collection consists of 14 tales of Holmes, Watson and other familiar characters in not-so-familiar settings or even bodies.
It’s great fun and, unusually for short story collections, not one is a duffer. All have their own appeal.
In A Scandal in Hobohemia by Jamie Wyman, Holmes is Sanford ‘Crash’ Haus, owner of a travelling circus. Watson is black veteran soldier Jim Walker. Members of the travelling show are being murdered and Jim Walker finds himself being drawn in by the weird genius of Haus.
Black Alice by Kelly Hale sets Holmes in the 17th Century investigating accusations of withcraft. There is a lovely piece of imagery in ths tale which sees Watson dreaming of dumplings. At one stage, Holmes forthright and indelicate questioning leads to him retreating swiftly closely followed by a barrage of hurled crockery.
In The Adventure of the Speckled Bandana, J.E. Cohen imagines Homes as a 1970’s New York consulting detective, investigating a bizarre crime on the West Coast. The story is set in a waxworks and made me think of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, although there are no Scooby Snacks and the perpetrator is not just the janitor dressed up in a sheet.
Emma Newman’s ‘A Woman’s Place’ puts the focus on Holmes’ landlady, Mrs Hudson, whose interest in Holmes’ pursuit of Moriarty may be caused by a little more than the wish to get a vicarious thrill. Mrs Hudson certainly hides her light under a bushel.
A Study in Scarborough by Guy Adams sees Holmes and Watson as a comedy double act. The story is written from the perspective of a fan looking back on their careers with nostalgia. Watson demonstrates the true feelings of the straightman.
Ian Edginton’s ‘The Small World of 221B’ is one of the more sci-fi stories and includes time-travel and Matrix like imagery.
One of my favourite stories was The Final Conjuration by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Holmes is still Holmes as we have always known him. However, he is transported as a powerful demon into a world ruled by seven great wizards. This is a great fantasy tale. The wizard’s servant who summons Holmes is named Wu-Tsan.
The Patchwork Killer by Kasey Lansdale is set in the future where Holmes can be cloned into existence when necessary. It’s a very funny and includes lines like “The worlds has changed. The technology has changed. Holmes, however, is the same smug bastard as always.”
The final story is called Paralles and is by Jenni Hill. This is a birilliant story in which Holmes and Watson are teenage girls Charlotte and Jane. It’s written as fanc fiction about fan fiction and is extremely engaging.
it’s unusual for me not to skip over a story or two in such a collection but this very entertaining book kept me reading all the way through. Recommended.