New Tales of Sherlock Holmes
Reviewed: January 23, 2006
By: ed by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower
Publisher: Carrol & Graff Publishers
277 pages, $25.00
Much as I enjoy the tales of the Baker
Street sleuth, Iíve always had to admit that the short stories work better
than the novels. The Sherlock Holmes novels often seemed to become an excuse
for Conan Doyle to bookend the adventure with Holmes and Watson while spending
the bulk of the middle of the book telling the background story which led
up to the puzzle they are solving.
Conan Doyle was better at the little
puzzles, better at carrying us along and making us forget that a good deal
of this stuff didnít make sense, better at pairing his two main characters
and having them react to situations and to each other, than he was at extended
narratives in this genre. The short stories have a snap to them that takes
you from one to the next like eating peanuts.
So it is with the pastiches, the homages
which have covered more bookshelf space than Sir Arthur himself did. Some
of the novels work; some donít. Those that do often abandon the format of
the originals in order to tell a more modern story.
The short story collections donít have
to do that. In this case Greenberg, the master anthologist, has pulled together
twelve tales by reputed masters of the mystery form, including Canadians Howard
Engel and L.B. Greenwood, both of whom have tackled the problem successfully
at novel length, giving us a book of adventures that I nursed through several
lazy Sunday afternoons.
In addition to new work by Stuart Kaminsky
(the Toby Peters series) and Anne Perry (the Thomas Pitt series) and noted
Edgar Award winner Edward D. Hoch, there is an essay about Holmes by Conan
Doyle himself, and a retrospective essays by Lloyd Rose and editor Lellenberg.
It has now been 120 years since the
first novel, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in 1886. It took another
5 years before Conan Doyle figured out how best to show off his detective
in that first short story, ďA Scandal in BohemiaĒ. So far there is no end
of his adventures in sight.