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In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon


In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon

IN LEAGUE WITH SHERLOCK HOLMES is far from your typical short story collection. Editors Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger handpicked and invited each and every one of these authors rather than merely solicit stories that met their criteria. These pieces use the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his world-famous creation as inspiration to produce unique tales that feature settings from Baker Street, London, to Africa…and even the wild Jersey Shore!

Countless Sherlock Holmes fan groups and clubs operate around the world, and King and Klinger are proud members of one of them: the Baker Street Irregulars. If you are a fan like me, you will be squirming in your seat in a fit of pure delight as you turn each page of this anthology. Those who have been reading my reviews for the past few decades are probably aware that I am not only a huge Holmes aficionado and member of a New York City-based Sherlockian group, I have portrayed the detective several times on stage and even published a short Holmes play that went on to great acclaim.

"If you consider yourself a Sherlockian, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you missed out on this book."

Are there any classics among this group of short stories? Probably not. But the boundless creativity exercised by these contributors is unmatched in any prior Holmes collection I have ever read, and the result is pure magic.

Here are some of the stories that stood out for me:

  • “The Strange Juju Affair at the Gacy Mansion” by Kwei Quartey
    Set in Ghana, Quartey’s tale features legendary detective Mensah Blay, known for his very Holmesian powers of observation and deduction. When presented with what appears to be a locked-room murder at the famed Gacy Mansion, Blay breaks down the case bit by bit just by utilizing what was seen by the detective in charge as he successfully identifies the guilty party.
  • “What My Father Never Told Me” by Tess Gerritsen
    A young American woman travels to London for the purpose of honoring her father’s dying wish of having his ashes scattered there. She meets Julian Watson, a friend of his with whom she is unfamiliar, and soon learns of the legacy behind their famous names. It’s an easy thing to overlook in America, I guess, when you have a normal name like Eve Moriarty.
  • “The Twenty-Five-Year Engagement” by James W. Ziskin
    Ziskin, whose own novels are typically set in upstate New York, pens a traditional Holmes and Watson tale with a twist. As always, Watson narrates, and he presents us with this case, which he felt embodied their peculiar friendship like no other before. It is a masterful story of pure Holmes wit and wisdom as he cuts through the murder of a long-married husband at the behest of his wife and turns the tables on everyone.
  • “When You Hear Hoofbeats” by Robin Burcell
    John Watson has been murdered…but it’s not the Watson you’re thinking of. Retired San Francisco PD homicide detective-turned-PI S. Barker is called to work on the case. The character of Dr. Bell stood out for me, as Joseph Bell --- a Scottish surgeon and lecturer --- served as the real-life inspiration for Conan Doyle to create Holmes in the first place.
  • “Mr. Homes, I Presume?” written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Martin Simmonds
    This short graphic novel features a protagonist nicknamed “Sh*t-Talk Homes.” Hill’s bizarre dark humor and Simmonds’ outstanding illustrations make this unique effort a winner.
  • “A Séance in Liverpool” by Lisa Morton
    Conan Doyle and his close friend, George Budd, are attending a séance in Liverpool held by Miss DeLisle, a popular medium. A famous skeptic of the supernatural, Conan Doyle’s wits will be tested to the fullest.
  • “A Scandal on the Jersey Shore” by Brad Parks
    Just imagine that Snooki or Jwoww from the infamous virtual reality show of the same name had the powers of observation of the great Holmes, and you will have some idea of the fun time you are about to have here. I love all of Parks’ work and attended a book signing where he truly showed off his sense of humor. He also is rumored to have serenaded Sherlock Holmes at a Bouchercon event.
  • “A Case of Mistaken Identity” by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
    I have been reading Yarbro’s horror for decades, and her contribution has perhaps the best twist in this collection. I do not want to spoil the fun. Let’s just say that you do not have to actually “be” Sherlock Holmes to be a Holmes!

IN LEAGUE WITH SHERLOCK HOLMES is just plain fun to read. If you consider yourself a Sherlockian, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you missed out on this book. The time spent with Holmes-inspired stories would be not just logical, but flat-out elementary!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 12, 2021

In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon
edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger