Think the Great Detective never set foot in the United States? Think again.
Fans’ reactions to the 14 new stories commissioned by the editors of The Ghosts of Baker Street (2006) will depend on what they’re looking for. If you’ve never been able to picture Sherlock Holmes in Boston or Chicago or San Diego, Matthew Pearl and Bill Crider and Carolyn Wheat fill in the blanks, and Victoria Thompson and Paula Cohen take him to New York. If you hanker for tales of Holmes in the Wild West, Lyndsay Faye, Loren D. Estleman and Steve Hockensmith are happy to oblige. Apart from setting new scenes for Holmes, the stories abound in inventive concepts. Gillian Linscott sets Holmes on the trail of Davy Crockett’s violin, missing from the Alamo, and Jon L. Breen introduces him to American football. Robert Pohle provides a sequel to A Study in Scarlet, and Michael Walsh a bridge between The Valley of Fear and “His Last Bow.” Lloyd Rose spins a tale told by the young Mycroft Holmes, and co-editor Stashower a Holmesian adventure starring Dashiell Hammett. Most of the plots, however, fall short of the concept and scene, with mysteries either transparent (Faye, Thompson, Pearl) or foolish and inconsequential (Hockensmith’s burlesque of a ham actor, Crider’s encounter between Holmes and Buffalo Bill).
The volume closes with Walsh’s irrelevant essay on Doyle’s anti-Irish streak; Christopher Redmond’s account of the author’s first visit to America; and Doyle’s own speech “The Romance of America,” which sets a stylistic standard no other contribution can match.