Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Summer of Sherlock

Last month, I got my hands on four Sherlock Holmes books that I've been wanting to read for a long time - all written by other authors than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes pastiches are a sub-genre of sorts;  you never know what you're gonna get.  I remember attempting to read Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula around 2000 and giving up because I couldn't figure out where Loren D. Estleman was going with it after a long sequence describing a cargo ship that had been ravaged after a vampire attack.

That reading had been with a copy borrowed from the library. This time, I'm giving it a 2nd chance because I own it now. The challenge (which you can follow along), is to read one Sherlock Holmes pastiche a month through this coming summer. I'll review the book I read, promote the next book I'll read, review that, and so on. To start, I'll just review the first book right now...because it was a library copy and I had to return it...

The Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Loren D.  Estleman

Encapsulate the plot of this book in one sentence?

A collection of short Sherlock Holmes mysteries and essays by the author includes encounters with Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer, Doc Holliday,  the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future...and a new revelation about The Shadow's link to the world's greatest detective.

What's your verdict?

Nice. Estleman's specialty is writing crossovers, so we get a lot of that here. In this case, I get the feeling that these were ideas for potential novels that wound up as short stories instead, for whatever reason.  They're essentially skits, sketches...I was more impressed with the essays. I remember "On The Significance of Boswells" was the introductory essay in Signet's two-volume paperback reprints of the canonical stories by Doyle; it's a great profile of Dr. Watson which was updated to include Estleman's praise of the two recent movies with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as Holmes & Watson, though he makes no mention of Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman, which is...interesting. I wonder if he's seen that, or even Johnny Lee Miller & Lucy Liu?

And then there's "Was Sherlock Holmes the Shadow? (A trifle)"...if I needed just one reason to pick up this book, here it is. Estleman muses on Sherlock Holmes,  post-"His Last Bow", moving to the United States and applying his skills and resources in distinctly new ways to take on 20th Century evil...wherever it may dwell...even suggesting that Watson, Irene  Adler and brother Mycroft joined in on the fun, under different names,  of course. It almost makes me want to check our those reprints of old Shadow pulp novels...then I remember I've already tried reading those...but it's a great essay. time, I'll review Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula...and see if the 2nd times the charm. The book is available in stores and online in a cool new paperback edition,  so feel free to check it out...and tell me if it's good to keep me from bailing out...

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