A Study in Sherlock

A Study in Sherlock by Laurie King & Leslie Klinger, editors © 2011, Bantam Books 2011 trade paper, mystery short story collection – multiple author

The subtitle of this new collection is “Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon”.  What was done is the editors wrote to a list of authors thusly:

“In 19th century England, a new kind of hero—a consulting detective—blossomed in the mind of an underemployed doctor and ignited the world’s imagination.  In the thirteen decades since A Study in Scarlet first appeared,  countless variations on that theme have been played, from Mary Russell to Greg House, from ‘Basil of Baker Street’ to the new BBC Holmes-in-the-Internet-age.

Now, you don’t generally “do” Sherlock Holmes.  Which is precisely why we’re writing, because we suspect that you have in the back of your mind a story that plays a variation on the Holmes theme.

All we ask is that you let the Holmes stories inspire you.  You might want to write a straight Holmes pastiche, or a graphic story, or a tale about Mycroft or Mrs. Hudson or Billy the page.  The story may take place in Victorian Baker Street, or in Mughal India—or on the first manned flight to Mars.  Perhaps the plot takes inspiration from a Conan Doyle tale?  Or your detective suspects that his case is related to one Holmes faced?  Or…”

So that’s the set-up and the authors listed here delivered: 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 only problem with this setup is probably obvious. You get exactly what you asked for, a variety of stories from very entertaining Holmes pastiches to way-out-in-left-field things that take more thought to figure out how they might be connected to the canon than is worth the energy to give.

Some of the stories here are, as I said, very entertaining. I particularly liked he stories by S.J. Rozen, Alan Bradley, Margaret Maron and Dana Stabenow. Charles Todd’s story was excellent, Jan Burke’s story thought-provoking. The rest went from so-so to feh. I’m glad I read it for the good stuff, but if it hadn’t been a gift, I’d have been best off getting it from the library.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in books, mystery, reading, Review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A Study in Sherlock

  1. Great minds think alike, Rick. I’m reviewing a Sherlock Holmes book on my blog tomorrow! I have mixed feelings about pastiches. When they’re done well, there’s plenty to appreciate. But, too often, authors can’t capture the essence of the legendary character (like Sherlock) nor duplicate the style of the author (like Doyle). Those failures are always downers.

  2. Might try this one from the library. I have a large collection of pastiches, but this one sounds like a borrow instead of a buy.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Bill Crider has done a few Sherlock stories that were fun too.

  4. I still have some of the original Holmes to read, although I have read a couple of books by Nicholas Meyer, I believe, who continued the Holmes tales.

  5. Richard says:

    Jeff, you’re right, I liked the ones he wrote for HOLMES FOR HOLIDAYS and MORE HOLMES FOR HOLIDAYS. Both collections are chock full of good Holmes stories, matter of fact. They are a couple of my favorite Holmes pastiche short story collections.

    Charles, THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION was the first one Meyer did.

  6. Cap'n Bob says:

    It missed the boat by not including Evan Lewis.

  7. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I put this on the library reserve list, so it shouldn’t be long in coming.

  8. Carl V. says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the Alan Bradley story. His Flavia de Luce series has become a big favorite of mine over the last couple of years.

  9. Yvette says:

    Sounds like a borrowing book for me as well, Richard. Though I’m not, usually, a short story reader. Well, except for the original Holmes and the occasional author here and there.

    I’m very fond of S.J. Rozan – most especially her last three books in the Bill Smith and Lydia Chin series. I’m also a major fan of Laurie R. King – her Holmes pastiche featuring Mary Russell, has got just the right combo of herself and Conan Doyle.

  10. Richard says:

    Yvette, I’m with you on both counts, Rozan and King. The Russell books are real favorites.

  11. p881 says:

    I only buy books I am almost completely positive I will like because I don’t finish so many of them. I have spent my life in libraries and can’t break the habit now. The new HOUSE OF SILK looks good and I picked that up as a present.

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