Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes
Edited by George Mann
Reviewed by Ardy
Much like boxes of chocolates, typically, short story collections can be a bit of a risk: what if half the box consists of those weird coconut-filled chocolates I can’t actually eat?
I am delighted to say that Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes is a rather lovely box of Sherlockian chocolates – there are no weird coconut fillings to be found among the twelve stories in the anthology. All the stories in this collection incorporate a supernatural element, and in some, something is left open or unexplained at the end. The quality is high across the board – not a surprise when you look at the list of authors. Among the contributors are Doctor Who and Big Finish Audio veterans Scott Handcock, Roy Gill and James Goss as well as Guy Adams of Sherlock: The Casebook fame.
In no particular order, I hope to give you a bit of a taste of what to expect. Andrew Lane’s “The Case of the Compromised Card Index” is a steampunk-ish story wherein Sherlock Holmes becomes the victim of the Victorian equivalent of a computer hack. Scott Handcock’s “The Girl Who Paid for Silence” and Nick Campbell’s “The Adventure of the Decadent Headmaster” both have intense atmosphere and a great twist. Lou Anders’ “The Sleep of Reason” will appeal to fans of H. G. Wells as well as those who like alternative readings of Holmes and Watson’s relationship. Fans of Doctor Who and time-travel shenanigans will find Roy Gill’s “The Strange Case of the Displaced Detective” very gratifying. “The Adventure of the Professor’s Bequest” by Philip Purser-Hallard is a wonderful imitation of Doyle’s voice (as are all stories in the collection) with a steampunk flavour. Speaking of flavours, Guy Adams’ “An Adventure in Three Courses” is probably the most humourous of the lot. I’ve rarely read a Watson who’s so obviously fed up with Holmes’ escapades, it’s a great joy. “Sherlock Holmes and the Popish Relic” by Mark A. Latham is a classic mystery which also happens to involve a séance and a Doylean in-joke that you may find funny if you’re anything like me.
Justin Richards’ “The Snowtorn Terror” features possibly supernatural creatures and in that way is a spin on The Hound of the Baskervilles, although in much colder and more sinister territory. Finally, “A Betrayal of Doubt” by Philip Marsh give us an aged Holmes solving that one last case with Dr. Watson junior.
I do feel for James Goss, because “The Case of the Devil’s Door” is a great horror story with a neat setup and atmosphere, but people who have watched the most recent series of Sherlock will figure it out far too soon to be impacted very much. I am also afraid to say that other readers may enjoy “The Adventure of the Coin of the Realm” by William Patrick Maynard & Alexandra Martukovich more than I did. I thought the lynchpin of the mystery was a bit far-fetched. If you’ve read the Dorothy L. Sayers story “The Entertaining Episode of the Article in Question”, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Overall, this is a collection of bite-sized, quality narratives that will appeal to people who like Sherlock Holmes and/or science fiction and intelligent psychological horror. If you are such a one, or have someone in your life who is, you can obtain it from all good bookstores as well as on Amazon UK, Amazon US (as well as other geographically appropriate Amazon sites) in print and for your Kindle. I feel I should also point out that the price tag is more reasonable than your average box of quality chocolates, and you’ll probably regret the purchase less the next morning, but that may just be me.