The popularity of Sherlock Holmes continues to grow and grow thanks to not only the two hit TV shows (BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’s Elementary) but also the recent court ruling that supported putting much of the mythos in the public domain and that will allow many more stories to be told. Expect to be seeing much more of the World’s Most Famous Detective in the years to come, and if you’re looking for some new reading material, I’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find information on two new books that have just become available and will entertain fans.
Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes – edited by George Mann
I’ve enjoyed a number of novels over the years from George Mann, including his amazing Newbury & Hobbes series. And Mann is also a Holmes fan, with both short stories and novels featuring the famous detective. Last year he edited Encounters of Sherlock Holmes (my review here) and now we finally have the follow-up, Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes. Once again, a great collection of writers has managed to spin some entertaining tales of Holmes and Watson, and fans will find a mix of traditional deduction tales as well as a few unusual twists to the legend.
A few of my favorites? “The Adventure of the Professor’s Bequest” (Philip Purser-Hallard), a deep thinker involving some lost papers of the late Dr. Moriarty. “The Case of the Devil’s Door” (James Goss) introduces non-UK readers to one of the more unusual architectural decisions that was made to help with the creation of the underground railway of the time. (Interestingly, this plot twist also features in the final episode of Sherlock Season 3, “His Last Vow”.)
A fun tale of Sherlock and Watson on the open seas as they return from a visit to the US can be found in “The Adventure of the Coin of the Realm” (William Patrick Maynard & Alexandra Martukovich). One of the darker tales, “An Adventure in Three Courses” (Guy Adams), has to be my favorite of the bunch, finding Holmes and Watson having a meal in a most unusual restaurant while surrounded by numerous criminals ready to pounce. And the collection of twelve short stories finishes up with “A Betrayal of Doubt” that brings Holmes out of retirement for one final case with none other than John Watson, Jr.
All of the short stories were enjoyable, especially the unusual ones that include one that takes Holmes to Mars and another that has him involved with a certain device written about by H.G. Wells. If you’re looking for some popular writers (many who were or are involved with the hit BBC Doctor Who television show, strangely enough!) putting their spin on the Victorian investigator, this is the book for you.
Sherlock Holmes FAQ — Dave Thompson
I always enjoy learning more about not just the detective, but also his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. There’s plenty of information out there on the author’s childhood, his school years, and his writing history, but I’m always on the hunt for more. This book’s subtitle is All That’s Left To Know About The World’s Great Private Detective. That’s a pretty grand statement, but I was quite surprised at just how much new (to me) information it presented!
Author Thompson has chosen a logical order for how he presents the historical information related to Doyle. He pays careful attention to those details that so many of us readers might not understand but are often key to a deeper understanding of all of the detective’s stories — London’s weather, the importance of the docks and the railways, and the business of the publishing world at the time. All these details help readers gain a better understanding of Doyle’s motivations and the details he would draw on that would make him one of the most well-payed writers of the day.
The book moves into some great discussions on the individual adventures (and details on the order in which they were written, including the infamous death at Reichenbach Falls). A fun chapter goes over the various actors who have played Holmes and Watson over the years, and yet another chapter gives specific attention to the BBC show’s modern take on the characters. Finally, Thompson closes out the book with his own thoughts and opinions on the various movies and TV show incarnations, pointing out strengths and weaknesses of a variety of non-standard Holmes stories that attempted to add to the legend and either hit or miss.
I must admit that I enjoy essays and papers on Holmes as much as I enjoy the fiction. As a research document, the Sherlock Holmes FAQ is an outstanding source of information. For those of us who live outside the UK and don’t have ready access to the sources that would allow for a deeper dive into Doyle and his famous detective, resources like this book are much appreciated.
Random Holmes Information
* Sherlock Seasons 4 and 5 already plotted! — We all thought the cliff-hanger for Season 2 was tough to endure, but what about the new Season 3 ender?! The good news is that we’ve got at least two more seasons to come. Beware spoilers with that link!
* Elementary Season 3? — It hasn’t been announced yet, but things are looking good for a third season of CBS’ Elementary (review here). If you’ve not caught this show, you’re really missing out. Lucy Liu’s Joan Watson has become one of the most developed characters on the show, and Jonny Lee Miller’s version of Holmes is hands-down becoming my absolute favorite with his speedy explanations, facial ticks, and actual maturity of character. The supporting cast has also been surprising in their own developments, moving beyond 2D players and developing fans of their own. Season 2 is just a few episodes past the halfway point, with plenty more to come before what is certain to be its own talked-about cliff hanger, I’m sure.