this is the 120th in my series of posts on forgotten or seldom read books
The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Donald Thomas, Macmillan (UK) , 1997 – hard cover – pastiche: Sherlock Holmes short stories
The investigations described in this volume relate the role of Sherlock Holmes in seven major crimes or scandals. The premise is that the events were so politically sensitive all of the papers pertaining to them were shut away until after Holmes’ death. Thus Watson is compiling into narrative from his recollections, aided by the afore mentioned papers, long years after the actual events.
This premise allows an explanation for the fact that the narrative tone of the book is somewhat different from the adventures that have been related in the past. Premise or no, this difference bothered me and it took a while to accept that Watson was writing of these events so long after they occurred and also after the death of Holmes, that his “voice” should be altered somewhat. Once I made this adjustment – or at least bought into it – I was able to pay attention to the stories.
This is a collection of stories many Holmes fans will enjoy, while others will find much to dislike, I’m afraid. Thomas gives us (as Publisher’s Weekly pointed out at the time of publication) a Holmes who is smug and self-centered (perhaps he always was, but not so smirking so). The stories wander and wobble a bit, though that may or may not bother the reader; it bothered me less than the “voice” issue mentioned above.
The price of this book seemed prohibitive when new: $40 for this UK hardbound. Copies used and new are less than that today and there may be a paperback edition as well. I’d recommended this for the completist Holmes fan or someone who wants a slightly different Holmes pastiche to fill a few hours. I enjoyed it though am unlikely to re-read it.
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The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts this week
are over on In Reference to Murder, B.V. Lawson’s website.