THE GREAT DETECTIVE: His Further Adventures
Edited by Gary Lovisi
Borgo Press, A Division of Wildside Press LLC, 2012 ($14.99)
Reviewed by Larry Jung
Recent pastiches of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's enduring fictional detective have mutated Sherlock Holmes into a movie action hero (A GAME OF SHADOWS starring Robert Downing Jr.) or into being just a front man for the real detective Mrs. Hudson, Holmes's landlady, (in The Mrs. Hudson of Baker Street series) or into a 21st Century detective where Dr. Watson is an Asian woman (ELEMENTARY, the TV series). Thankfully, Gary Lovisi has brought together short stories, except for one, that don't play tricks with the original Sherlock Holmes character and Holmes's Victorian world. These stories don't feel the need to bring Holmes into the 21st Century to make him relevant and interesting for today's readers.
That said, the dozen stories show a warm regard for Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes adventures as narrative by Dr. John Watson. They are consistent with the original canon but not slavish. There is humor in several of these stories, something missing in the original stories. It is evident that the writers are well versed Sherlockians who are sincere mimics but not pretentious. The writers in this collection are not writing beneath them or, the other extreme, looking over their shoulders at the Sherlockian police (those self-appointed know-it-alls on all things Sherlock). The dozen stories in THE GREAT DETECTIVE set out to give the reader a few brief hours of adventure and escapism as the original Holmes stories did for its readers. That is, these stories are good mystery stories, first and foremost. They are well written, giving a feel for Victorian and Edwardian England without coming across as dated or stilted.
The stories collected include Mycroft Holmes in a case of international importance; Inspector Lestrade needing Holmes help against a card cheat; Colonel Ross this time asking Holmes, who found the Colonel's thorough-bred horse Silver Blaze, to find a missing groom; a case depending on Holmes' ability to decode an ancient cipher; a case where England's rigid class system allows a Prince to get away with murder; and the deadly secret Holmes must pry out of a society of nuns.
Their success, as with the original Holmes stories, is that they give us romance and adventure beyond our everyday world. So for a brief time through the stories Gary Lovisi has so skillfully selected, the reader is transported to the world of what many consider the greatest fictional detective series ever created.
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