Book Review: Otto Penzler (Ed.): Sherlock – Over 80 Stories Starring the Greatest Detective of All Time

sherlock book cover smol

Sherlock – Over 80 Stories Starring the Greatest Detective of All Time

Selected and Edited by Otto Penzler

Reviewed by Maria

The volume seems a little overwhelming when you first hold it in your hands. The UK hardcover edition consists of almost 900 pages and holds 83 Sherlock Holmes stories selected by Otto Penzler. (The US Version is called The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories and has fewer pages, but the same content). After an introduction by Penzler, the book starts off with an interview by Arthur Conan Doyle from 1900 (his justification of killing Holmes in “The Final Problem” and some comments on the Great Detective) and two of his non-canonical Sherlock Holmes stories. Followed by the most famous short story pastiches and parodies, including Vincent Starrett’s “The Unique ‘Hamlet’” and J.M. Barrie’s satirical “The Adventure of the Two Collaborators” and Stephen King’s “The Doctor’s Case”.

The rest of the book consists of stories that range from pastiches that are very close to the Canon to further parodies, to stories laden with intertextual references to other stories, literary characters (Raffles or Poirot) or even Arthur Conan Doyle himself while others are only very loosely related to Sherlock Holmes. Not all of the stories are good and only very few are actually brilliant, but most of the 83 stories are quite entertaining, written with love for the original, and a lovely addition to the Canon.

My personal favourites are Vincent Starrett’s “The Unique ‘Hamlet’” (yes, that’s the same man who write the book The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and the sonnet “Always 1895” aka. “221B”), J.M. Barrie’s “The Late Sherlock Holmes”, a wonderful metafictional account of the arrest of Dr Watson as the main suspect in the death of Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls published immediately after “The Final Problem” with a very telling conclusion which may or may not have influenced Doyle to pick up writing more Holmes stories in 1903. I also loved Antony Burgess’s “Murder to Music”, Lyndsay Faye’s “The Case of Colonel Warburton’s Madness” (I promise I am not biased. Lyndsay successfully wrote Holmes pastiches long before she became a Baker Street Babe – for instance Dust and Shadow and the story printed in this volume) and Logan Clendening’s “The Case of the Missing Patriarchs” in which Holmes after his death is employed to find Adam and Eve, who have disappeared which made me laugh harder than it probably should have.

However, those are just a few of many wonderful stories in this book and what they all have in common is the fantastic notion that Holmes lives on in manifold ways, universes, interpretations and forms. It shows that from the very beginning Sherlock Holmes has inspired both earnest pastiches and hilarious parodies and while many of the authors are known for their love of Sherlock Holmes some other names will be a surprise to the reader.

Apart from the stories, this book also features a short introductory text by Otto Penzler about the author and the context of each story, featuring interesting trivia titbits like the fact that Doyle, Barrie, Wodehouse and others had formed a cricket club, but Doyle was the only person who could actually play cricket. There short introductions add tremendously to an already fascinating and wonderful collection.

The UK publisher of the book, Head of Zeuz, has kindly offered us a copy of Sherlock to give away to one of our readers. This giveaway is currently for the UK only. All you have to do is leave a comment until February 7 on this post on our website and we will draw a random winner from all of those who commented.

The book is currently on sale on amazon.co.uk  and bookdepository and can also be purchased at amazon.de.

The US version can be purchased on amazon.com, where it is also currently on sale!

Book Review: Otto Penzler (Ed.): Sherlock – Over 80 Stories Starring the Greatest Detective of All Time

Sherlock – Over 80 Stories Starring the Greatest Detective of All Time Selected and Edited by Otto Penzler Reviewed by Maria The volume seems a little overwhelming when you first hold it in your hands. The UK hardcover edition consists of almost 900 pages and holds 83 Sherlock Holmes stories selected by Otto Penzler. (The… Read More »

Review: The Abominable Bride

Spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t (and I really don’t know why you wouldn’t have by now) seen The Abominable Bride, then turn back! The Babes have a lot of thoughts, and while you can hear them in more detail in our podcast reaction episode, below we have two reviews of the Sherlock special for… Read More »

Book Review: Sherlock: The Mind Palace – A Colouring Book Adventure by Mike Collins

   Sherlock: The Mind Palace – A Colouring Book Adventure By Mike Collins Reviewed by Maria The current trend of adult colouring books has taken Great Britain, and by now also the rest of the world by storm. They have been around for a few decades, but in our rushed times it is entirely understandable… Read More »

Book Review: The Sherlock Holmes Book edited by David Stuart Davies and Barry Forshaw

The Sherlock Holmes Book Edited by David Stuart Davies and Barry Forshaw Reviewed by Maria October 1st saw the release of The Sherlock Holmes Book, a lovely heavy book whose cover already hints at the incredible amount of information between the covers (the US release is on October 20). It’s part of the series Big… Read More »

Book Review: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes by David Fable

The Murder of Sherlock Holmes by David Fable Reviewed by Maria Fleischhack Sherlock Holmes has died and John Watson makes the heartbreaking decision to investigate what he believes is murder. The novel’s premises already indicated a strong diversion from the Canon, and yet it begins in typical fashion, with John Watson as the narrator. However,… Read More »

Book Review: Blood to the Bone

Blood to the Bone (Fight Card) By Andrew Salmon Reviewed by Maria Fleischhack As promised in the review of Work Capitol, here follows the review of Andrew Salmon’s second Fight Card – Sherlock Holmes story, Blood to the Bone, a novel about women’s bare-knuckle boxing in the late nineteenth century. In the story, which is… Read More »

Book Review: Work Capitol

Work Capitol (Fight Card) By Andrew Salmon Reviewed by Maria Fleischhack As with most pastiches, the story told in this book is narrated by John Watson and it is one of those cases which have never been told before. Very often we encounter accidental finds or stories involving people whose names had to be protected… Read More »

Book Review: The Early Punch Parodies of Sherlock Holmes

The Early Punch Parodies of Sherlock Holmes By Bill Peschel Reviewed by Maria  We all love the Sherlock Holmes stories and yet we will all freely admit that they are often flawed, sometimes unintentionally funny and every no and then too far-fetched to be entirely believable. It’s therefore not surprising that even while the original… Read More »

Book Review: Ghosts of Manhattan

Ghosts of Manhattan By George Mann Reviewed by Ardy This is not a pastiche, but it was written by George Mann, author of The Spirit Box and editor of several anthologies of Holmes short stories. Set in an alternate New York in 1926, Ghosts of Manhattan mixes alternate-history steam/dieselpunk with hard-boiled detective fiction. There are… Read More »

Elementary Review: 03 x 05 Rip Off

When I learnt that “Rip Off” was an episode without Joan, I was disappointed. It is understandable that the writers needed to build the plot so that Lucy Liu could spend some time behind the camera, but removing one of the show’s protagonists for a whole episode had me questioning how well it would hang… Read More »