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Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Sherlock Holmes - Tangled Skeins
wonderful collection of tales is a pastiche.
According to Wikipedia, “A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature,
theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or
more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the
work it imitates.”
Tangled Skeins is indeed a celebration
of the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson and the writing style
of Sir Arthur Canon Doyle. For Holmes and Watson lovers, there is the pleasure
of encountering beloved characters in new adventures. For pastiche lovers,
there is the admiration of seeing how Marcum gets the tone and style just
right. For lovers of good writing, there is the pleasure of well-crafted,
intricately plotted stories that keep the pages turning.
especially liked the humorous introduction by David Marcum, purportedly the
editor of these “undiscovered”
tales. In Part I, Marcum recounts his life-long attachment to wearing a
Deerstalker hat. In Part II, he takes the reader on his pilgrimage to famous
Sherlockian sites mentioned in the canon and in other pastiches. Part III
explains how Marcum came by these stories during his London pilgrimage: A strange
man had instructions to give a certain tin box to a man in a Deerstalker hat.
Inside the box are the stories, along with Watson’s foreword saying he is
leaving them temporarily with a friend while he and Holmes finish up a case. Apparently he never came back for them. There
are five tales in all:
“The Mystery at Kerrett’s Root”, Mrs. Grimshaw, Mrs. Hudson’s widowed
sister, meets Holmes and Watson on the train when they are returning to London
during a case. Mrs. Grimshaw has a ghost story to relate, but in the convoluted
tale that unfolds, much more is revealed than the ghost that has frightened
“The Curious Incident of the Goat Cart Man”, Watson joins Holmes, Inspector
Patterson, and several detectives at Paddington Station on a case involving
Professor Moriarty when another case intrudes. The new case includes two
brothers and a recluse whose life may be in danger, Sir
Giles Gidley-Hall. Sir Giles, impoverished by debts, now resides at the edge of
his former park. He’s eccentric, riding around the park in a cart pulled by a
goat, and the revelations solving his plight lead eerily
back to Moriarty.
Matter of Boz’s Last Letter” features an auction and a letter by Dickens that
outlineshis ending to The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Or does
it?Or is it really by Dickens?
Whatever the truth, the contents are incendiary and could be dangerous to the
Crown. Soon both Mycroft and Sherlock are at work on surprising and interwoven
aspects of the case.
“The Tangled Skein at Birling Gap”, Sherlock is retired, but as Watson visits
his friend in Sussex, the reader learns that Holmes still consults when his
assistance is needed. At Birling Gap, a boy has been kidnapped for ransom.
While Holmes and Watson are planning their approach to the kidnapper, they
learn that Officer Warren at the coast guard residencies has been murdered.
Holmes narrows down who the killer is and why. Not surprisingly in a Sherlock
story, these two cases are related. But no spoilers here. You’ll have to read
this satisfying story yourself.
favorite in the collection is “The Gower Street Murder”, a story within a story
that features the Wiggins family. In the original canon, the Baker Street
Irregulars were street urchins spying for Holmes, who made Wiggins their
leader. In this story, before Watson ever knew him, Holmes helped clear Peter
Wiggins’smother of a false murder
charge. Watson encounters the grown Peter on return from an errand for Holmes
on a current case, and he’s invited to join Holmes at Wiggins’ home for his
mother’s funeral. The tale of how Holmes cleared Mrs. Wiggins unfolds in bits
and pieces by Holmes and by Lestrade, also attending the funeral.
Simultaneously, their current case also progresses, and Peter has a role in its
success. A long story, beautifully told.
Tangled Skeins will be released April 12, 2015, but can be pre-orderedHERE. You can order it RIGHT NOW at Strand Magazine HERE .
David Marcum, when not
wearing his Deerstalker hat.
You can visit David Marcum and his books at his Amazon author page HERE.