Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"In the Company of Sherlock Holmes" edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger

This is a follow-up volume to A Study in Sherlock.  When King and Klinger sent word to writer friends and fellow Sherlockians that they wanted to publish a collection of Holmes-inspired stories, they got too many for one book, so they planned to publish two volumes not far apart.  But then the A. Conan Doyle estate put up this huge court battle claiming that because they owned the copyright to the last few Holmes stories (most are in the public domain), they owned the rights to the characters therein and should get royalties any time Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, or any others from the canon were used anywhere.  The Doyle estate eventually lost, and so here we have the second volume at last.

Here are the five stories I liked especially well in this collection:

"Dr. Watson's Casebook" by Andrew Grant cleverly rewrites The Hound of the Baskervilles as if it was being posted about on a social media website like Facebook.  You have to suspend a little disbelief over the idea that people would post to Facebook that they're about to be mauled by a gigantic hound, but whatevs.  It's a funny concept and amused me a lot.

"The Adventure of the Laughing Fisherman" by Jeffery Deaver is set in modern times and involves a man who uses what he's learned by studying the Sherlock Holmes canon to create a new job for himself -- he assists the police in a murder investigation and makes some surprising new friends.

"Dunkirk" by John Lescroart is hands-down my favorite story in the whole book.  It made me tear up several times, though partly that's because everything involved with the Dunkirk rescue makes me cry -- I once had to hold back tears while I read a picture book about it to my kids.  In this story, an aging Sherlock Holmes (though he's never named) assists with the heroic rescue of Allied troops.  Although it veers from quietly heroic to a little more action-movie than I was expecting, I still liked it oh-so-well by the end.

"Lost Boys" by Cornelia Funke has Watson gleaning some information about Holmes' childhood by observing his friend's interaction with a worried boy.

"By Any Other Name" by Michael Dirda made me laugh several times over the idea that A. Conan Doyle was a pseudonym used by lots and lots of authors, rather like F. W. Dixon or Carolyn Keene.  It's imaginative and clever.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for themes about murder, abused children, violence, etc. Some of the stories also contained bad language.


  1. I'm very much a Holmes canon fan and less inclined to read additional literature about him, but you got me at Cornelia Funke. Now I'll have to find it.

    Although I'm still kind of on the Doyle estate's side about royalties. If I were published, I wouldn't want one of my precious characters being used helter-skelter either without being paid for it. But that's just me.

    1. Well, I would have been super angry that, back when the canon was first published, Americans thought they didn't need to honor British copyrights at all, and just republished all the stories and books without paying Doyle anything. That's meaner. Estates, I have little sympathy with, cuz they're just cashing in on the creativity of a forebear. But artists getting their work ripped off like that? Wrong, wrong, wrong.

  2. I was really glad you posted about this book! I read the previous collection which was kind of a hit-and-miss with me. Most of the stories I wasn't a fan of, but there were a few gems.

    I'll probably check this one out since there were at least five that you liked :)

    1. Hayden, I think overall, I liked this collection better than the first one. It had much more Holmes and Watson in it, with only a few that are only tangentially related.


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