A notorious lawsuit over whether the Great Detective was in the public domain—he is, according to the court—held up this sequel to King and Klinger’s collection A Study in Sherlock (2011), but it’s well worth waiting for.
The range of the 15 new stories here is remarkable. One of the best, Sara Paretsky’s “The Curious Affair of the Italian Art Dealer,” is the most conservative, taking true delight in approximating Watson’s turns of phrase. Michael Sims retells “Silver Blaze” from the title character’s perspective. Cornelia Funke displays Holmes’ magnanimity toward a young thief who invades 221-B Baker St., and Nancy Holder provides a sad, spectral sequel to “The Beryl Coronet.” John Lescroart shows an aging Holmes helping out in the Dunkirk evacuation. Since Holmes can never die, Michael Connelly reimagines Dr. Watson as a deputy coroner working with Harry Bosch’s LAPD, and Jeffery Deaver, in a characteristically twisty tale, sets a Sherlock-ian wannabe against New York’s East Side Slasher. Holmes is only one among several inspirations behind Laura Caldwell’s “Art in the Blood,” Denise Hamilton’s “The Thinking Machine” and co-editor Klinger’s “The Closing.” Leah Moore and John Reppion resurrect Holmes in a fast-moving comic book, and Andrew Grant even more breathlessly abridges The Hound of the Baskervilles for social media. Harlan Ellison’s wild fantasia, the strangest item here, is more Ray Bradbury than Conan Doyle. And in the wittiest story, Michael Dirda unmasks Doyle as a Strand house author whose byline conceals the identities of many contributors.
Notable among its many competitors mainly for raising the question of what can legitimately count as Sherlock-ian pastiche. Even readers who aren’t pleased with every answer will undoubtedly be stimulated to provide answers of their own, perhaps for the inevitable next collection.