For the Sake of the Game

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

I enjoyed many of the stories in this collection but I do agree with other reviewers that many stories are only loosely inspired by Holmes.  Like any anthology some stories were better than others. The stories I enjoyed had more than a hint of Holmes.  Fans of mystery short stories will find some enjoyable reading.
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Following two earlier anthologies, Echoes of Sherlock Holmes and In the Footsteps of Sherlock Holmes, this new anthology features stories inspired by the Holmes Canon. It features stories by some of the best-known authors of today. Peter S. Beagle, Reed Farrell Coleman, Jamie Freveletti, Alan Gordon, Gregg Hurwitz, Toni L.P. Kelner, William Kotzwinkle and Joe Servello, Harley Jane Kozak, D.P. Lyle, Weston Ochse, Zoe Sharp, Duane Swierczynski, and F. Paul Wilson all put their own stamp on the Sherlock Holmes character. This is not an anthology for Holmes purists, placing Holmes not only in multiple times and genres, as well as genders. I am not one of the purists as far as Holmes is concerned.

I enjoyed some of the stories more than others so I will concentrate on three that I found particularly delightful. The Case of the Missing Case by Alan Gordon places a young Sherlock and brother Mycroft in London before their respective careers really took off. Sherlock is trying to justify his choice of career to disapproving parents and barely getting by, but actually finds himself taken in by the theatrical wiles of a young woman. Hounded, by Zoe Sharp is inspired by my favorite of all Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Set in the modern day, it has all the spooky atmosphere of the original with several new twists. Third of my favorites is The Ghost of the Lake by Jamie Freveletti, which puts Holmes into the 21st century with a female Watson. The two are trying to recover a missing security operative from a terrorist group and our female Watson equals Holmes in brains and skill.

This is a very enjoyable anthology and I thank Pegasus Books and NetGalley for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-4 Stars
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Welcome to my review of the biennual collection of Sherlock Holmes-inspired stories edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger. This is an every two years treat, as evidenced by my reviews of the previous collections in this quasi-series, A Study In Sherlock, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes and Echoes of Sherlock Holmes.

The stories in all of these collections were inspired by Holmes, one way or another, and are commissioned for the collections. And like all collections, they are a bit of a mixed bag. The game, however, is definitely afoot, both in stories that feel like they could be part of the original canon, and in stories that take their inspiration from the Great Detective without necessarily featuring him in either his Victorian guise or a more contemporary one.

I have several favorites in this year’s collection, one each to reflect the different aspects of Holmesiana that are represented here.

My favorite story in the manner of the master himself The Case of the Missing Case by Alan Gordon. It takes place before the canon begins, when Mycroft is still working his way up the government ladder, and Sherlock, in his very early 20s, has not yet taken up rooms with Watson. And is not yet quite as sure of himself and his methods as he will later become. It actually fits quite nicely into the period between the excellent Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Whitehouse, and the beginning of the official A Study in Scarlet.

In this story we see a very young Sherlock justifying his continuing presence in London to the consternation of his parents and the absolute chagrin of brother Mycroft by solving the case of a missing violinist and saving his brother’s life. This story also provides a rather lovely explanation for Sherlock’s acquisition of his famous Stradivarius.

This collection has relatively few Holmesian stories set in the Victorian era. Most are either modern variations of Holmes – or modern detectives, whether amateur or professional, who use Holmes’ methods.

Of the contemporary Holmes stories, I can’t decide between Hounded by Zoe Sharp and The Ghost of the Lake by Jamie Freveletti. They are such completely different versions of the 21st century Holmes that choosing between them is impossible.

Hounded by Zoe Sharp is so much fun because it is a contemporary reworking of The Hound of the Baskervilles. It shows just how timeless the canon can be, by transplanting from the 19th century to the 21st and still making it all, including the ghostly hound, work.

The Ghost of the Lake, on the other hand, is a 21st century version of Holmes that owes a lot to both Elementary and Sherlock without feeling like an imitation of either. In this story, Sherlock Holmes is a 21st century operative for a secret British government department who has come to Chicago to prevent the kidnapping of an American national security specialist who has plenty of tricks up her own sleeve – and who is every bit Holmes’ equal in every way.

I liked, not only the portrayal of Holmes in this story, but also the character of Dr. Hester Regine. And I loved the trip down memory lane to Chicago, my favorite of all of the places that we have lived.

Last but not least, the story that took the phrase “inspired by Sherlock Holmes” to new heights. And depths. And several places in between. That would be The Adventure of the Six Sherlocks by Toni L.P. Kelner. This story both spoofs the love of Holmes and celebrates it at the same time, as its amateur detectives find themselves using Sherlock Holmes’ own methods to investigate a murder at a convention of Sherlock Holmes fans.

The story reminds me a bit of Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb, where an author is murdered at a science fiction convention – but if “Six Sherlocks” uses that book as a springboard, it’s a very light spring.

Even the idea of a cooking show featuring actors portraying Holmes and Watson is hilarious. But when someone murders “Holmes” at the Sherlock Holmes convention, there are too many pretend Sherlocks and nearly not enough real ones to crack the case. This one is a light and fun send up of fan conventions in general and Sherlock Holmes mania in particular as well as being a cute mystery.

Escape Rating B+: Overall I enjoyed this collection. There were a couple of stories that just weren’t quite my cuppa, and one or two where it felt like they were a bit too far off the Holmesian tangent to be in this collection.

I read it in a day, finding myself getting so caught up in each story that I almost finished before I knew it. If you like Holmes or Holmes-like or Holmes-lite stories, this collection is every bit as much of a treat as its predecessors.

Of all the stories in all these collections, the one that still haunts me is from the first one, A Study in Sherlock. It’s The Case of Death and Honey by Neil Gaiman, and it’s the one that I still most want to be true.
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There are some good points in this anthology but it's more a case of using the Sherlock Holmes brand into obscurity.
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