Finally, a collection of new Sherlock Holmes pastiches based on a promising idea: conflicts between the great detective’s super-rational nature and hints of the supernatural.
Conan Doyle was a great believer in spiritualism, especially as his life drew to a close. Yet despite numerous red herrings, he never allowed any supernatural incidents or explanations into the Holmes canon. Greenberg and Co. (Murder in Baker Street, 2001, etc.) have enlisted ten contributors eager to make up this deficit, either by providing Holmes with an apparently ghostly apparition that turns out to have a rational explanation (Jon L. Breen, Gillian Linscott, Carolyn Wheat, H. Paul Jeffers, Colin Bruce) or by posing a problem with alternative explanations, natural and supernatural (Loren D. Estleman, Paula Cohen, Bill Crider, co-editor Stashower). Both types straddle the line between this world and the next, but Michéal and Clare Breathnach introduce Yeats and Lady Gregory in a tale that balances even more precariously on the line between the two types. The roster is rounded out by a pair of autobiographical/critical reflections by Estleman and Caleb Carr and by Barbara Roden’s more substantial and valuable survey of supernatural detectives—a line that now, for better or worse, includes Holmes.
The cleverest stories are by Breen and Wheat, the edgiest by Estleman. A prize should be reserved for the anthologist who comes up with a higher concept than this one.