Book Review : A Study in Sherlock, Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
The authors who contributed to this collection include Alan Bradley, Tony Broadbent, Jan Burke, Lionel Chetwynd, Lee Child, Colin Cotterill, Michael Dirda, Neil Gaiman, Laura Lippman, Gayle Lynds, John Sheldon, Phillip Margolin, Margaret Maron, Thomas Perry, S. J. Rozan, Dana Stabenow, Charles Todd and Jackie Winspear.
The tales in this volume show eighteen top writers exploring the contours and boundaries of that archetype [Sherlock Holmes], playing with the ideas of how this Platonic ideal of detecting hero might look in different situations, wearing a variety of faces. Some recount untold adventures of the Master Detective, others look at him from fresh perspectives; still others listen to the echoes of his passing. (p. viii)
Adult Point of View
I enjoyed many of the tales written, though some sparked my interest more than others, and the graphic novel left me completely cold. I found that if the stories were too similar I had to read another book in between to avoid confusion and to leave each installment feeling fresh.
One of my favorite stories, As to “An Exact Knowledge of London”, was written by Tony Broadbent. This story opens with a man needing a cab wanting to visit the sites famous from Sherlock’s adventures. The taxi driver, who was observant to an uncanny degree, takes the ex-RAMC around all of London ending on Baker Street. And this is when the real twists in the plot are revealed.
Another favorite was, You’d Better Go In Disguise, by Alan Bradley. A man realizes that he is being observed and inexplicably is drawn to talking to the man who has been watching him. Interesting revelations include, metaphors not usually used by the Dutch, a pink tinge to a woman’s teeth, fingers stained with silver nitrate to treat warts and finally a murderer revealed. This tale is in the style of the original Holmes written by Doyle.
Thomas Perry writes, Startling Events in the Electrified City, which is an alternative version of history surrounding the death of President McKinley. Could it be possible that a man would realize that he is not the right man for the job, and arrange to have his natural successor step in to fulfill his duties? Though improbable Perry makes is possible to believe in his new version of history.
In The Case of Death and Honey Neil Gaiman provides the story that explains Holmes longevity. I also enjoyed knowing why Holmes had such a fascination with bees after solving so many other mysteries. The world of bees is definitely a mystery worth exploring.
I found that I enjoyed the stories most that had a strong connection to Holmes and often featured the Great Detective. Some of the tales even include Dr. Watson. Other stories were told in a parallel fashion to the original tales, but I usually did not see the connection until after reading the author’s notes because I am not conversant with everything written by Conan Doyle. I believe that anyone who enjoys Sherlock Holmes will find several stories that tickle their funny bone.
3.25 out of 5 stars for the entire book, but 4 out of 5 stars for my favorite installments!