In this follow-up to the acclaimed In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, expert Sherlockians Laurie King and Les Klinger put forth the question: What happens when great writers/creators who are not known as Sherlock Holmes devotees admit to being inspired by Conan Doyle stories? While some are highly-regarded mystery writers, others are best known for their work in the fields of fantasy or science fiction. All of these talented authors, however, share a great admiration for Arthur Conan Doyle and his greatest creations, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
To the editors’ great delight, these stories go in many directions. Some explore the spirit of Holmes himself; others tell of detectives themselves inspired by Holmes’s adventures or methods. A young boy becomes a detective; a young woman sharpens her investigative skills; an aging actress and a housemaid each find that they have unexpected talents. Other characters from the Holmes stories are explored, and even non-Holmesian tales by Conan Doyle are echoed. The variations are endless!
Although not a formal collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories—however some do fit that mold—instead these writers were asked to be inspired by the Conan Doyle canon. The results are breathtaking, for fans of Holmes and Watson as well as readers new to Doyle’s writing—indeed, for all readers who love exceptional storytelling
How about that, I got approved for an ARC of this book on NetGalley! I must admit that I started to read this book the very same evening I got the approve mail.
Here are some thoughts about each story from the collection:
Holmes on the Range by John Connolly - 5 stars
Despite having read this story before did I have no problem reading it again. But, then again, this is one of my favorite stories, written by one of my favorite authors. And, it's still just as funny as it was the first time I read it.
Irregular by Meg Gardiner - 2 stars
This story just didn't work that well for me: I found quite bland and when the suspect was revealed could I not for a moment place him, despite the stories short length. Yes, I read part of the story walking my cat, but honestly, I usually remember the characters better if they make an impression. I just didn't find the story intriguing
Where there is honey by Dana Cameron - 3 stars
A bit better than the previous story, but still not a favorite in the book. I found Dr. Watson a bit caddish in the book and it felt odd to think of him having had a relationship with Mrs. Hudson. However, he did seem to be smarter than he sometimes is portrayed and that I liked.
Before a Bohemian Scandal by Tasha Alexander - 3.5 stars
This story, however, is one that I like very much since it gives us the story about how Irene Adler came to meet the crown prince and how she ended up with the photo of them both that he so desperately wanted back. I especially liked how Irene is portrayed as not a cunning shrewd woman out to deceive the crown prince.
The Spiritualist by David Morrell - 3 stars
Interesting story with Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle getting a surprise visit that makes him question his belief of the spirit world.
Mrs. Hudson Investigates by Tony Lee & Bevis Musson - 1 star
A comic that tries to be funny, but felt more and less like a tiresome way of showing how clever Mrs. Hudson is. As a deeper story and not a comic perhaps it would have been better, but honestly, I doubt that since it was way too silly.
The Adventure of the Dancing Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan - 3 stars
Ah, this story was actually quite amusing to read. I see great potentials with both the characters and the story. This would make a lovely cozy mystery series with "Holmes" & "Watson" solving crimes. I quite liked it, it was easygoing to read.
Raffa by Anne Perry - 3.5 stars
Such a sweet and heartwarming story. This I could see as a real book as well with an actor playing Sherlock Holmes solving real case beside his acting job. Pretty cool!
The Crown Jewel Affair by Michael Scott - 3 stars
Not bad at all, but this is a story that would have been better if it's been longer and more fleshed out since I quite liked the idea of a female thief/bordello madame.
Understudy in Scarlet by Hallie Ephron - 3.5 stars
I quite liked this story about an aging actress that thinks that she is getting the young Irene Adler part, but as it turns out is a bit wrong. Feels a bit like Murder she Wrote episode, but without Jessica Fletcher of course...
Martin X by Gary Philips - 2 stars
Not a story that made a big impression on me.
The Painted Smile by William Kent Krueger - 2 stars
This one also was a bit bland.
The First Mrs. Coulter by Catriona McPerson - 3 stars
This one at least had a clever ending that I at first missed but got when I re-read the ending to see what the point of it was.
The Case of the Speckled Trout by Deborah Crombie - 2 stars
Not my cup of tea. it seems that the best stories came first in this collection.
The Adventure of the Empty Grave by Jonathan Maberry - 2 stars
Started off interesting and then my interest was promptly lost.
Limited Resources by Denis Mina - 2 stars
Same as the story before. I liked the twist to the story, but I can't say I really cared that much about the whole story. Mostly because I couldn't see how any motive to murder, Well, of course, being a crazy murdered doesn't really mean that you have to have a motive other than being crazy...
The Adventure of the Extraordinary Rendition by Cory Doctorow - 1 star
DULL! The one story in the collection that I mostly skimmed just to get through.
When it comes to anthologies have I never as far as I know, read one where all the stories work for me. However, I had high hopes for this one and it started off great with Holmes on the Range by John Connolly a favorite story of mine, one that I read before and didn't mind reading again. Then, the stories varied quite a lot with some quite good, and some less interesting to read. For me, some were really interesting because I could see the potential for longer stories, or even series of stories. Other was even hard to read, despite being novellas and not novels.
I want to thank Pegasus Books for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!