The pleasure of reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories rarely palls. Even though I have been familiar with the tales in the canon for over 30 years now, I still find things to enjoy in going back to the “Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” or “A Scandal in Bohemia” (to name two favorites). There is a richness in the characters and the language and the story that stands up to many re-readings. Nevertheless, I often come away from reading Conan Doyle wishing that there were more stories to discover. Fortunately, as Orson Welles is reputed to have said, Holmes “is a gentleman who never lived and who will never die!”
For readers who enjoy Holmes and Watson, there is a rich trove of recreations of the pair by numerous accomplished crime writers (see our Welcome Back Mr. Holmes reading list for some of the best examples). These recreations take place in time from the Victorian era to the present day, and even into the future, and offer sometimes outlandish, but always entertaining glimpses of Holmes, Watson, and other characters from the canon.
A Study In Sherlock, edited by eminent Baker Street Irregulars King and Klinger, is a welcome addition to the growing collection of Holmesiana. The collection includes stories from 18 celebrated authors, including Neil Gaiman, Laura Lippman, Alan Bradley, Margaret Maron, and Charles Todd (to pick my favorites). Each story if preceded by a short paragraph that reveals the source of the author’s interest in Holmes.
Most, though not all, of the stories here depart from the traditional setting and time period of the Holmes tales, and some readers may be disappointed in that. However, as an avid Holmes/Watson reader, I think that each of the stories reveals some new facet of the pair that makes the characters even more intriguing. The more modern tales, some of which involve Holmes more in spirit than in flesh, make you think about Holmes and Watson in new ways; and in ways that make for a richer reading of the stories in the canon.
Among my favorites here are Neil Gaiman’s eerie tale of an elderly Holmes visiting a remote beekeeper in China, Phillip and Jerry Margolin’s story of an illustration for a lost Holmes story, and Margaret Maron’s “The Adventure of the Concert Pianist,” starring Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Not all of these eighteen pieces will resonate with every reader, but any Holmes fan will find more than enough here to enjoy. So check out A Study in Sherlock, the game’s afoot!
Check the WRL catalog for A Study in Sherlock