The Mammoth Book of the Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes by Denis O. Smith (2014) is an outstanding collection of non-canonical stories featuring th...moreThe Mammoth Book of the Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes by Denis O. Smith (2014) is an outstanding collection of non-canonical stories featuring the great detective. Smith manages to duplicate Watson's narrative voice with great skill--slipping only occasionally. The stories are very reminiscent of the original short stories without appearing to be mere copies of Doyle's work. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and finding myself once again on the fog-shrouded streets of Holmes's London. I have two minor quibbles. First, there are two longer stories--almost novella-length--included (making this a mammoth-sized book, indeed!) and Smith seems to lose his narrative voice most in these. He maintains Doyle's style much better in the shorter works. Second, I'm not certain what dictated the order of the stories--whether they were published as short stories elsewhere first and then gathered in publication/writing order or if some other criteria was used--but I would have enjoyed them a bit more if the stories had appeared chronologically per the Holmes/Watson relationship. We skip from them have roomed together for some time to Watson being married and longer sharing rooms to a story from the earliest days of their shared rooms and then back forth between the first two options mentioned. Again, minor quibble that didn't prevent me from enjoying myself, it just caused a bit of a disruption in the flow of the work as a whole. Four and 1/4 stars. [finished late last night: 4/13/14]
Here is a run-down of the stories included: "The Adventure of the Crimson Arrow": A man is killed with a certain archer's arrow. Holmes shows how it is possible that the archer in question is innocent.
"The Adventure of Kendal Terrace": Mr. Claydon comes home unexpectedly to find his entire household (wife & servants) missing and strangers in possession of the house as if they had always lived there. Holmes gets to the bottom of it all.
"A Hair's Breadth": Holmes uses a single hair to find the killer of a harmless old lady.
"The Adventure of the Smiling Face": A professor of Classical Archaeology is plagued with ominous notes and a tile with the face of a smiling woman. When the professor is found dead with only one set of footprints leading to the spot where he was found, the authorities are quick to call it accident. But Holmes knows better.
"The Adventure of the Fourth Glove": The Latchmere diamond has been stolen and Holmes must find the culprit. The clue is the fourth glove. (That's no spoiler...and I challenge you to figure out what the glove means.)
"The Adventure of the Richmond Recluse": Mr. David Boldero's brother has gone missing--apparently at the hands of their uncle who scooped the family fortune when their grandfather died. But there is no proof. Holmes discovers what happened to the brother...and who really should have inherited.......
"The Adventure of the English Scholar": Mr. Rhodes Harte meets a learned English Scholar on the train. When Dr. Kennett alights from the train, he leaves his satchel behind. Harte, a kindly good citizen, attempts to return the property...only to find himself in the middle of an international intrigue. He, of course, consults with Holmes who soon finds the truth of the matter.
"The Adventure of the Amethyst Ring": Holmes investigates the disappearance of Jack Prentice, a former dealer of stolen goods who has since gone straight.
The Adventure of the Willow Pool": Captain returns from India to find that his father and all of the townspeople have inexplicably taken against him. No one will tell him why (they all assume he knows what despicable thing he has done). Holmes finds the answer....and a murderer.
"The Adventure of Queen Hippolyta": Mr. Godfrey Townsend is abducted one morning on his way to the dentist and taken to a deserted house. His abductors leave for a short time (locking him in a room)...and fearing that he might be robbed of his expensive cigar case, he hides it under a floor board. The men return with a woman who is furious when she sees Townsend--they have grabbed the wrong man! He is knocked out and awakens in Hyde Park with no clue where the abandoned house might be. He comes to Holmes hoping he can help him find his case. Holmes does--and moreover discovers the secret behind the abduction.
"The Adventure of Dedstone Mill": Holmes takes on one of his youngest clients when Miss Harriet Borrow, age 14, engages him to help discover several things: who is trying to kill her younger brother, where their lovely aunt may be, and what happened to their friend, the tutor. It is a diabolical plot indeed.
"An Incident in Society": The military's secret codes have been copied and it's up to Holmes to stop the information from being passed to an infamous international spy.
In Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, Ann Margaret Lewis successfully brings us three tales that John Watson mentions in...moreIn Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, Ann Margaret Lewis successfully brings us three tales that John Watson mentions in his stories but never gave readers the details. The Great Rat of Sumatra has often been the subject of authorial speculation, but this the first time I have found renditions of "the sudden death of Cardinal Tosca," "the Vatican cameos," and "the two Coptic Patriarchs." Lewis handles the well-known characters of Homes and Watson with great care and attention to the ways and writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And in the second story (cameos), she turns the narration over to Pope Leo XIII and manages a charming narrative that remains true to the spirit of Holmes.
Unlike many Americans who have written Holmes pastiches, Lewis makes us believe that these really could be stories penned by Dr. Watson and discovered in that battered dispatch box. The details are vivid and the tales feel authentic. She also manages to work theological explanations into the narrative without making readers feel as though they have sat through a religious lecture. Full marks for Holmesian atmosphere as well as pretty little puzzles for the master detective to unravel. Holmes is given full scope to exhibit his famous observational powers and deductive reasoning. An added bonus is his interactions with a certain soon-to-be Father Brown and the period-style pen and ink illustrations.
The Adventure of the Eleven Cuff-Buttons by James Francis Thierry (1918) is thought to be the first novel-length Sherlock Holmes parody with "Holmes"...moreThe Adventure of the Eleven Cuff-Buttons by James Francis Thierry (1918) is thought to be the first novel-length Sherlock Holmes parody with "Holmes" as the central character. "Doc" Watson recounts Hemlock Holmes's first British adventure after they return from a three-year stay in New York City--this explains why he and Holmes sound like caricature-versions of Americans abroad. It doesn't explain why every other character--including the Earl of Puddingham and all the inhabitants of the manor also sound like they've been studying American slang.
Holmes is called to Nomanstow Towers to track down eleven of an even dozen diamond cuff-buttons which have been stolen from the Earl. The famous detective is determined to find the missing buttons...not out of any interest in justice, but in the interest of adding the enormous fee to his bank account. Holmes examines shoes and questions all the staff and family from the Earl's wife to his younger brother to his wife's elderly Uncle Tooter and from the Earl's private secretary to his temperamental French chef to his German gardener. Everyone has a theory about who might be thief--basically anybody but their honest selves.
This parody actually ventures beyond spoof to outright exaggeration--Holmes is over-the-top dismissive and not just abrupt, but down-right rude to everyone. His contempt for the Yard, as represented by Inspector Barnabas Letstrayed, is at its highest level ever. There is some humor to be found in this--but not as much as anticipated. In my opinion, the funniest bits are in Watson's asides to himself and comments to Holmes when they are alone--for while, he is outwardly a fawning, loyal side-kick, he is inwardly wondering why "it was that I still continued to swallow such talk as that, when I knew it was my duty to rise up and paste him one in the eye for his sarcasms." The book is also made--if in any sense it is--by the illustrations by Rob Pudnim. Two stars--for limited humor, Holmesian historic value, and the illustrations. What keeps it from three stars? The Americanisms--I got really tired of "hearing" Holmes say "gol-darned" and "chump" and worrying about his fee in American dollars. Three years in the States doesn't change a British subject permanently. And the mystery just wasn't that engaging--as parody or as legitimate puzzle.
Naked Is the Best Disguise: The Death and Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes by Samuel Rosenberg is a literary criticism revolving around Sherlock Holmes...moreNaked Is the Best Disguise: The Death and Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes by Samuel Rosenberg is a literary criticism revolving around Sherlock Holmes, but unlike most Holmesian critiques it focuses on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle more than on examining the works themselves for the sake of the work. Rosenberg speculates that Doyle left clues throughout his work that reveal hidden meanings and connections between the Holmes stories (and other of Doyle's work) and Nietsche, Oscar Wilde, Dionysus, Christ, Catullus, John Bunyan, Frankenstein, Robert Browning Racine, Flaubert, T. S. Eliot and others.
The title, which may seem odd at first, comes from William Congreve's The Double Dealer and preface the book.
No mask like open truth to cover lies, As to go naked is the best disguise.
And Rosenberg claims that Doyle has used the open "truth" in his stories to disguise his real meaning and display his true self.
Samuel Rosenberg was a literary detective who also published surprising discoveries about the work of Mary Shelley, Melville and others. In this work Rosenberg posits that Doyle was a brilliant allegorist who left "purloined letter" references to both literary figures and people from real life. He would have us believe that the blueprint for Professor Moriarty was Friedrich Nietzsche and that Irene Adler stood in for George Sand.The author encounters the people who knew Doyle and who, he says, turned up in his stories; displays clue after clue about Sir Arthur himself; and claims the discovery of the real meaning behind the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
I must say that Naked Is the Best Disguise reads rather oddly from someone claiming to be a literary detective. Rosenberg's prose actually reminds me of Dorothy L. Sayer's Miss Climpson. His work is littered with exclamation points and italicized words and I can almost hear the breathless, urgent tone as he declares his earth-shattering revelations! Although, perhaps I am doing Miss Climpson a disservice--because Lord Peter Wimsey's right-hand woman is much clearer in her reports to Lord Peter than Rosenberg is in his ecstatic "discoveries" about Doyle. If his literary detective work is really that accurate (and I have severe doubts that it is), then he certainly shouldn't need to broadcast it at the top of his lungs and highlight it with little neon signs to say: "Look at this brilliant bit of deduction! Aren't I clever? Nobody else has figured this out yet. And if I use enough exclamation points and italicize all the important words, then you, poor reader, can't possibly miss my point."
So...the method of delivery is quite distracting--as is his frequent digressions to explain just where he was when each brilliant discovery about Doyle's work occurred to him. On a train. At a hotel. Wandering around the countryside. Because, by golly, where you are when you suddenly realize that "This reference is exciting!" (yes, he actually put that right there in the text) is just about the most important thing you can relate while trying to convince your audience that Moriarty is Nietzsche. Or wait---maybe that's Colonel Sebastian Moran. Yeah--he's Nietzsche. NO....they're both Nietzsche! Did I mention that he seems a bit confused?
I don't know if Rosenberg is actually as earnest as he seems to be about all this exclamatory nonsense or whether this is a bit of literary critique parody put on for his friendly group of Holmes aficionados. It doesn't much matter to me. All I know is it was tedious, convoluted, and pedantic when it wasn't being all breathless and urgent and I can't say that I recommend it at all. He has not convinced me with the comparisons he's made. It's sort of like statistics--you can make them mean anything you'd like them to mean. One star. Maybe
The lead-in to one of the most famous friendships in all of fiction:
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine-glass. "You don't know...moreThe lead-in to one of the most famous friendships in all of fiction:
Young Stamford looked rather strangely at me over his wine-glass. "You don't know Sherlock Holmes yet," he said; "perhaps you would not care for him as a constant companion."
"Why, what is there against him?"
"Oh, I didn't say there was anything against him. He is a little queer in his ideas -- an enthusiast in some branches of science. As far as I know he is a decent fellow enough."
And, then, the famous meeting:
"Dr. Watson, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," said Stamford, introducing us.
"How are you?" he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive."
The Study in Scarlet was the world's introduction to the first consulting detective. In it we are introduced to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson--along with recurring character Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Holmes and Watson meet and decide to share lodgings (to share the costs). Watson is curious to discover what exactly his new roommate does: he meets him in a lab, knows from a mutual acquaintance that he's studying various sciences--but not apparently for the purposes of being a doctor, and watches as an odd assortment of people come to talk with Holmes in their sitting room. Finally, Holmes receives a message from Gregson of the Yard inviting him to take an interest in a very odd death--and Watson learns of Holmes's standing as an amateur detective.
They are off and running on the case of the death of Enoch Drebber--a man found dead in an empty house with no trace of violence on his person and no visible cause of death, despite the vast amount of blood in the room. Holmes will scour the room (and the outdoors surrounding the house) for clues and discover that the death has it roots in the southwestern U.S. With the help of his Baker Street Irregulars, the band of street urchins who serve as his eyes and ears in the city, he manages to track the culprit down in three days.
I grew up on Sherlock Holmes. My big ticket item for Christmas when I was about ten years old was a green, leather-bound edition called The Celebrated Cases of Sherlock Holmes. I read "The Red-Headed League" long before it was required in high school English. I'm revisiting the first recorded case of the famous consulting detective for a couple of challenges and just have a couple of thoughts on this delightful Victorian mystery about love and revenge.
First, I love the meeting between Holmes and Watson. Two strangers meet up, answer a couple of questions apiece, and immediately decide to share lodgings. Can't see that happening in this day and age--at least I wouldn't want to share an apartment with someone I knew had been beating up dead bodies in his spare time. Not without knowing him for longer than about 15 minutes, anyway. It's amazing how times have changed--Doyle apparently knew that his audience wouldn't even bat an eye at that scenario.
And, second, the Baker Street Irregulars. I enjoyed them when I first read these stories. But I appreciate them even more now and I realize that I wish they had shown up in more stories. Doyle uses them in Study and then in The Sign of Four and then, as far as I remember, they just sort of disappear. I realize that Holmes and Watson are the main characters....but I do think judicious use of the Irregulars would have been a good thing sprinkled throughout other stories.
Since I've been struggling with my reading (and as a by-product, my blogging) lately, I decided to go back to something tried and true--Sir Arthur Con...moreSince I've been struggling with my reading (and as a by-product, my blogging) lately, I decided to go back to something tried and true--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sherlock Holmes never lets me down. Give me a good old Victorian mystery set on the moors of England and watch the reading doldrums fade away.
This is the classic story of Sir Henry Baskerville and legend of the giant hound that haunts his family. Is it really true that a spectral dog hunts down all the Baskerville men as retribution for Sir Hugo's dastardly deeds in the 18th Century. Sherlock Holmes is unwilling to believe it until he can rule out all possibility of human involvement, but recent events have Dr. Mortimer, a man of science, thinking it may true.
The tale really starts with Sir Charles Baskerville, Henry's uncle. Sir Charles had returned to Baskerville Hall only two years ago having made his fortune abroad. He settled down to the life of country squire and was spreading his wealth amongst the less-fortunate around him. There seemed to be reason for anyone to wish him harm. Then the rumors start flying that a giant hound has been seen and heard on the moor. Sir Charles, who has a weak heart, becomes anxious and dies one night near the moor--of "natural causes." Dr. Mortimer, the attending physician, is uneasy. There are no marks of violence on the body, but there is every reason to believe that Sir Charles was literally scared to death. He approaches Holmes with the legend of hound, the facts as he knows them of Sir Charles's death, and asks his advice about what to do with Sir Henry--the new baronet.
Holmes is quite sure that there is, indeed, evil abroad and sends Watson to Baskerville Hall to guard the new baronet and send reports about all that happens and all who are interested in Sir Charles. Watson gathers clues while Holmes works mysteriously in the background until the story reaches a climax on the foggy, lonely moor. A night when Sir Henry, Holmes and Watson will see the Hound of the Baskervilles for themselves....
It was nice to breeze through a book again--and not just because I've read it before. But because Doyle writes so darn well. There are plenty of Victorian-era descriptions, but not so much that the reader gets bogged down. And there's plenty of action to keep the story moving--with mysterious strangers following Sir Henry through London, the mystery of the disappearing boots, the escaped criminal out on the moors, the tall man who watches from the craggy heights, and what in the world is Barrymore, the Baskerville butler, up to at night? Great fun! And reading Holmes was like coming home. Five stars.(less)
This is a decent collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches written with a Christmas holiday theme. There are eleven stories in all--written by well-know...moreThis is a decent collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches written with a Christmas holiday theme. There are eleven stories in all--written by well-known mystery writers like Anne Perry, Edward D. Hoch, Peter Lovesy and Jon Breen as well as tales from science fiction and western writers like Bill Crider and Tanith Lee. And a few of the authors have dipped their toes in Holmes tributes in the past (Loren D Estleman and Daniel Stashower, for example). There are a wide range of themes from a stolen Stradivarius to a second adventure with a previous client to a puzzle involving a beautiful woman and a family curse. We also find Holmes solving mysteries for the likes of Oscar Wilde, O. Henry, Charles Darwin and Timothy Cratchit (Tiny Tim).
Just as there is a wide range of themes, there is a fairly wide range of expertise in this collection. The stories are obviously meant as homage to the Master, but few of the authors get the voice of Watson down correctly and there are occasional missteps in the relationship between Holmes and the good doctor. But regardless of the flaws, the stories are on the whole interesting and well worth the read--especially at this time of year. Three stars.(less)
When The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was first published, it had long been established that the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's celebra...moreWhen The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was first published, it had long been established that the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's celebrated sleuth Sherlock Holmes was made up of fifty-six short stories and four novels. There had also long been rumors of various other materials by Doyle that had never been collected and published in one volume. Peter Haining hunted down some of the most elusive items and brought them all together in this book. And what we have is a grand mish-mash of early stories, plays, poems, and essays about Holmes--all written by Doyle. Well, purportedly in some cases.
I am quite sure that I've read some of these pieces before....probably re-collected in other places once Haining had done the leg-work of hunting them down for first time. I can't say that any of the stories or other pieces are particularly earth-shatteringly great, but the pieces are interesting for anyone who has more than a passing interest in all things Holmes. We are given everything from "The Mystery of Uncle Jeremy's Household" which is a clear precursor to The Study in Scarlet to Doyle's own explanation of how he came to kill off his most famous literary offspring. There is also the list of Doyle's favorite stories--Holmes fans can see how their own favorites match up.
The dust jacket blurb says that this volume "will undoubtedly be welcomed by every Holmes enthusiast and find a place of honour in Sherlockian Libraries throughout the world...." Well, maybe there was great joy in Holmes-ville when this was first published, but coming to it now I would say that it's a decent collection of early and obscure material on Holmes.