Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The "New Read" Is Read, Now — And More Than Once.

It was that good! I read it twice, despite house cleaning and yard work in preparation for our coming trip to Spain. Sherlock Holmes: Before Baker Street


Sherlock Holmes: Before Baker Street

The book is edited by David Marcum and published by Belanger Books. Both Marcum and Derrick Belanger also have stories in this collection.

I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan, but anyone who loves mysteries would like this book, so I'll give you a link RIGHT HERE now, while I think of it.

Meanwhile, here is my review that I posted at Amazon. Hopefully it will whet your appetite.



It’s always a pleasure to encounter a Sherlock Holmes story. Sherlock Holmes: Before Baker Street, offers eleven cases by contemporary authors along with two of Sir Arthur Conon Doyle’s originals. Doyle’s stories are included for two reasons: Both took place before Holmes’s Baker Street days, and they provide reference points for some of the other stories. I can only offer teasers, but this is a must-read collection. The stories, of course, take place before Holmes moved to 221b Baker Street.

In Jayantika Ganguly’s “The Adventure of the Bloody Roses” eight-year-old Sherlock and his older brother Mycroft discover their tutor dead on a bed of cut roses in his quarters. Their parents are away on a trip, so it’s up to them to call the police, etc. What have dead roses and a murdered tutor have to do with each other? Young Sherlock’s observational skills soon lead to the answer.

Derrick Belanger offers two gems: 1. In “The Vingt-un Confession” a young man crippled from an accident at the docks, is reduced to begging and gambling. He’s not good at either. Young Holmes, not yet in college, teaches him to play Twenty-one, with surprising results. 2. In “Mr. Chen’s Lesson” Holmes shares with Watson the aftermath of a case that taught him humility after he solved a kidnapping but alienated Scotland Yard.

S. Subramanian’s “The Affair of the Aluminium Crutch” takes place during Holmes’s university days. A rich bully holds a special tea with students in his hall (including Holmes) to show off diamond studded cufflinks he’s safeguarding for his father. Another student promises a feat of magic and – poof! – the cufflinks disappear. Where? How? Sherlock Holmes figures it out.

In Robert Perret’s “The Adventure of the Dead Ringer” Holmes is new to Montague Street. He soon learns a tobacconist is being extorted by a criminal gang led by a woman whose husband is on the run. Holmes spies on her when she comes to collect, follows her to her hotel, then leaves an ad The London Times. The next day she visits Holmes and hires him—with unusual results.

In S. F. Bennett’s “The Devil of the Deverills” a post-Montague-Street Holmes is evicted once again due to an experiment gone wrong. He encounters an old classmate, Marcus Zeal. Zeal invites him to his estate in Norton Deverill, to help him with a problem: The mother of a girl Zeal fancies is accused by the vicar of witchcraft. Is she behind the strange things happening?

In David Marcum’s “The Painting in the Parlor” said parlor is at Montague Street. A landscape is painted onto the plaster above the mantelpiece. Holmes looks back an event, when a young man showed him a canvas copy of almost the same landscape given to his great-grandfather. A dagger—a missing family heirloom—shown in the canvas painting is not shown in the parlor painting. Secret codes, and missed encounters are involved—all solved by young Holmes.

Arthur Hall gives the reader a wonderful locked-room puzzle in “The Incident of the Absent Thieves”. Two art thieves, father and son, have been missing for two months. The wife, a usual accomplice, and the son’s fiancée, equally complicit in their capers, are worried, and Scotland Yard isn’t much concerned. The solution to this puzzle is brilliant, if sad.

Daniel D. Victor has Robert Louis Stevenson tell “The Adventure of the Amateur Emigrant” in a supposedly excised section from his memoir, The Amateur Emigrant. During his brief stay in New York, Stevenson attends a British pantomime of Robinson Crusoe. One of the actors is Sherlock Holmes, using a pseudonym. Soon Holmes’s detective skills are put to work when Stevenson’s wallet goes missing.

Mark Mower’s “A Day at the Races” takes a reader to Epsom Downs. Holmes joins friends of Cedric Stone, whose father Holmes helped recover a stolen ring. The group disperses except for Stone and Hughes, a schoolmaster of a boys’ school. Hughes hires Holmes to discover why the woman he hoped to marry—the sister of one of his students--suddenly forbids communication. Another good puzzle mystery with clues that keep you guessing.

Geri Schear’s “The Strange Case of the Necropolis Railway” opens under a railway bridge at 3:00 a.m. A policeman finds a bloody corpse and calls Dr. Stamford, who wants a second opinion before taking it to the mortuary. He sends for Holmes, who says the blood is not the corpse’s and that he died elsewhere. Thus begins an intriguing case only Holmes can unravel.

All the authors show mastery of storytelling and excellent research. This is a book Sherlock Holmes lovers will want to read more than once.


How about you? Are you a Sherlock fan? A mystery fan? A short story fan? Do you like anthologies and collections? As always, I'd be interested in your recommendations. 

6 comments:

  1. It sounds really good but my TBR pile is sooooo huge right now, I don't know when I will get to it. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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  2. Rosi, I know what you mean! I have a stack like that, and I seriously wonder when I will get to all those books. (Actually a nice problem to have, with winter coming, when I think of it. Cold weather, indoor cuppa tea, good book . . .)

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  3. It sounds like an awesome read. Like Rosi, I'm going to have to see if I can squeeze it into that pile...but then, more books always fit :)

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    1. I so agree, T. My TBR stack is teetering, but it seems I just keep adding to it! Have a great day.

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  4. I wonder how Arthur Conan Doyle/Sherlock Holmes fanatic-fans feel about this book. I was never one, so I can't comment. But for the books I adored, I didn't have a fond feeling for other writers taking on prequels or sequels.

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    1. Hi, Mirka. Thanks for stopping by. Oddly, it's the fanatic-fans who tend to be most likely to write or read these pastiches. Nearly every one of these authors is steeped in the canon and absolutely love it, and spend hours tracing the footsteps of the Great Detective.

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