Now that he’s survived 60 stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, countless parodies and pastiches, and even two Christmases (Greenberg and Lellenberg’s More Holmes for the Holidays, 1999, etc.), what new worlds are left for Sherlock Holmes to conquer?
It must be admitted that several of these 11 new stories don’t give him much to do at all. It’s Dr. Watson, not Holmes, who points out most of the peculiarities in Jon L. Breen’s puzzle poem, and the great man acts like a fifth wheel when L.B. Greenwood packs him improbably off to Africa. Bill Crider gives him Bram Stoker for a client and Loren D. Estleman, Sir Richard Burton, but the cases themselves are no more notable that Gillian Linscott’s decision to abandon Watson’s voice for that of a put-upon hansom cabdriver. Stuart Kaminsky and Howard Engel provide middling adventures (a threatened husband, an accused Field Marshal), Peter Tremayne an unusually dramatic problem (a not-so-supernatural apparition), and Edward D. Hoch and Anne Perry some welcome ingenuity (a suspiciously shy anonymous author, a repeatedly kidnapped child). But Carolyn Wheat, in a tale framed by Holmes’s sitting for Madame Tussaud’s, excels them all in both cleverness and style.
The volume is plumped out with two forgettable extras—Washington Post theater critic Lloyd Rose’s meandering essay on Holmes today and editor Lellenberg’s inquiry into Doyle’s verbal coinages (not many of them)—and Doyle’s own “Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes”: the only thing here that’s required reading for Sherlockians who don’t know it already.