If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he'd say that nothing in the world is certain except death, taxes, and Sherlock Holmes stories. Sherlock Holmes, the iconic consulting detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, is a perennial mainstay in the literary world. What's not to like? Holmes' methods of investigation and deductions are flawless and the way the stories unfold are riveting. That's why, even now, new stories appear almost every month featuring some new take on Holmes. That's no truer than in the pages of fantasy and science fiction. Here's a roundup of recent and forthcoming speculative fiction books featuring the master sleuth...
The Cthulhu Casebooks: Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows by James Lovegrove
Lovegrove's dark, weird take on Sherlock Holmes occurs when Holmes first meets Dr. John H. Watson, narrator of most of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries. In the original canon, this meeting occurred in the novel A Study in Scarlet. In Lovegrove's story, a destitute Watson meets Sherlock while he is investigating a series of deaths in the Shadwell district of London. Although the victims appear to have starved to death over the course of several weeks, they were reported as being seen alive mere days before their deaths. Something dark and sinister is afoot. For the armchair detectives out there, the book's title is a clue to both the culprit and the fact that this novel is a mashup designed to entertain.
Baker Street Irregulars edited by Michael A. Ventrella & Jonathan Maberry
In this tasty anthology, whose name is derived from a group of street children who routinely helped Holmes in Doyle's original stories, thirteen speculative fiction authors deliver their unique takes on the master detective. For starters, there's Ryk Spoor's futuristic story "The Adventures of a Reluctant Detective," which reimagines Sherlock as a holodeck re-creation. In "A Scandal in the Bloodline" by Hildy Silverman, Sherlock Holmes is a vampire. In another story, Sherlock is a crime-solving parrot. In another, he's a doglike alien. In yet another he goes back to college. If you like your mysteries with a dose of the fantastic, check out this anthology, which also includes stories by Keith R. A. DeCandido, Jody Lynn Nye, David Gerrold, Gail Z. Markus, and Jonathan Maberry.
A Betrayal in Blood by Mark A. Latham
Fans of Bram Stoker's Dracula will like this one. In this mashup, a Transylvanian nobleman's death at the hands of Professor Van Helsing is the talk of London. Mycroft Holmes, certain of Van Helsing's innocence, asks his brother Sherlock to investigate the case and find out what truly led to the deaths of Lucy Westenra and the mysterious aristocrat. Holmes and Watson soon find themselves in danger as they are beckoned to the mountains of Transylvania and the infamous Castle Dracula.
Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu: The Adventure of the Deadly Dimensions by Lois H. Gresh
In another mashup of Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu, Holmes and Watson investigate a series of grisly murders that terrorize London. Each crime scene is notable for having no body, only a jumble of human bones along with a bizarre sphere of bones covered in arcane symbols. Clues point Holmes and Watson to members of a secluded cult who build strange constructs that will enable other-worldly creatures to enter our dimension in search of sustenance. Even Sherlock's foe Moriarty fears his empire is in danger and thus teams up with Holmes to stop this new, common enemy.
Warlock Holmes: The Hell-Hound of The Baskervilles by G.S. Denning
Denning's take on Holmes, named after Dolye's classic "The Hound of the Baskervilles," is spun as humorous supernatural fantasy. Warlock Holmes is a consulting detective with supernatural abilities, though he often makes knee-slapping mistakes. In this sequel to last year's A Study in Brimstone, Watson and a partially-decomposed Warlock Holmes go head-to-head against Moriarty's gang, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, a succubus, an overly-Canadian aristocrat, and that most conniving of enemies, the dreaded Pumpcrow. Did I mention there's also a tricycle-fight to the death?
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? by Paul Cornell
In this entry of Cornell's Shadow Police series, Sherlock Holmes' ghost walks the streets of London, given shape by people's memories of the world's greatest detective. That is, until someone puts a ceremonial dagger through his chest and kills him. But who or what can kill a ghost? James Quill and his detectives are on the case, using their supernatural abilities and once again proving that eliminating the impossible is not an option.
The Labyrinth of Death by James Lovegrove
In The Labyrinth of Death (out next month), Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must infiltrate a mysterious cult to save a woman's life. Widower Fitzhugh Woolfson comes to Holmes seeking assistance in finding his daughter, Hannah. Holmes soon learns that Hannah has joined a group calling themselves the Elysians, a cult which conducts secret rituals derived from Ancient Greek myth and religion. Hannah's friend, also associated with the cult, has disappeared, too. It's up to Holmes and Watson to find out the sinister truth.
The Strange Case of The Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
In Theodora Goss' reimagining, Holmes is just one player on a team of legendary detectives. Here, a group of women come together to solve a series of gruesome murders and the mystery of their own origins. Mary Jekyll is curious about her father's enigmatic past, a clue of which points to her father's even more mysterious former friend, the murderer Mr. Hyde. Mary's search leads her to Hyde's daughter, Diana. When Mary enlists the aid of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, the investigation leads to even more women of mysterious origins – Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein – and a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists. The Strange Case of The Alchemist's Daughter will be available in June.
Further Associates of Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann
George Mann, who is no stranger to Sherlock Holmes stories, has assembled an excellent anthology follow-up to last year's Associates of Sherlock Holmes. The conceit here is that each of the stories – whose genre ranges from steampunk to horror – are told from the point of view of famous associates of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, including Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Irene Adler, Langdale Pike, and of course, Professor Moriarty. There's also a story from Sherlock himself. The anthology includes stories by Stuart Douglas, John French, Jonathan Green, Andrew Lane, James Lovegrove, Michelle Ruda, Sam Stone, and more. Associates of Sherlock Holmes will be available in August.