Two Hundred And Twenty-One Baker Streets edited by David Thomas Moore (book review).

March 10, 2016 | By | 1 Reply More

The fourteen stories in this collection ‘Two Hundred And Twenty-One Baker Streets’ offer another viewpoint on Sherlock Holmes, a character that continues to intrigue and entertain us for over 100 years. There are plenty of collections to choose from and, often in the UK, the short story is not the preferred choice over the novel but here is a chance to find some fresh voices and maybe the opportunity to discover new novels. It’s hard to single out stories when there are only fourteen and, as said previously, short. I’m going to offer up a few examples maybe to persuade you of a change of Holmes.

200 and 21 BakerStreets

It’s an over-riding theme of diversity that stands out in these stories. There is no time to get bored when we have for example ‘The Adventure Of The Speckled Bandana’ by J.E. Cohen in which a story, set on the West Coast of America in the 70s, can finally be told by Watson when the interested party has ‘passed on to a better world’. There’s a bittersweet coda to that one.

‘Black Alice’ by Kelly Hale, a tale of witchcraft and mischief, is set in seventeenth century Worcestershire and I took great delight in the local names that echo down the years. James Lovegrove’s ‘The Innocent Icarus’ sees and ‘Ordinary’ Holmes in an extraordinary Victorian London.

Holmes, in all his/her guises, ranges across time and possibly space. Check out the ‘A Scandal In Hobohemia’ for a special twist and a bit of a surprise meeting with Mrs. Hudson. In fact, not just Holmes is changed by this experience, so does John Watson becomes a variety of characters appears in a guises. Consider also ‘A Woman’s Place’ by Emma Newman sheds another new light on the way Mrs. Hudson is always ‘just’ there.

The most extreme and fun story is the fan fiction of fan fiction. Taking a sideswipe at the Internet obsession with Sherlock and John slash fiction here, we find a new pairing who have all the makings of a Holmes and Watson if only they could just get through one barrier. ‘Parallels’ is a great example of how the Sherlock Holmes character has become the standard for all pairings moving forward.

Fourteen stories and all enjoyable in their own right, proving there is lots of life in the character and the genre. People just love Sherlock Holmes and lots of people love to write about him. He is not always a ‘he’ but can be a she or a sixty-leg insect (ok, that one hasn’t been written yet). You can pack a surprising amount of meaning, in-jokes, emotion and powerful prose into a short story. Sherlock Holmes was originally in the short story form and it certainly suits him/her/it.

I love the introduction by the collection editor, David Thomas Moore, which indicates his thoughtful approaches and choice of storyteller. He also introduces each story with a non-spoilery flourish, making the whole experience a delight and, yes, fourteen stories about Holmes, however diverse, are never enough, so bring on the next collection.

Sue Davies

February 2016

(pub: Abaddon Books/HarperCollins. 324 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-221-8)

check out website: www.abaddonbooks.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy, Steampunk

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  1. avatar Ian says:

    Can I suggest that a _little_ extra time proofreading before posting. Eg:

    It’s an over-riding theme of diversity that stands out in these stories.
    ** Do you mean, “There is an over-riding theme of diversity in these stories”? or “An over-riding theme of diversity stands out in these stories” or?

    James Lovegrove’s ‘The Innocent Icarus’ sees and ‘Ordinary’ Holmes in an extraordinary Victorian London
    ** Maybe, “James Lovegrove’s ‘The Innocent Icarus’ sees an ‘ordinary’ Holmes in an extraordinary Victorian London”?

    Check out the ‘A Scandal In Hobohemia’ for a special twist
    ** Perhaps, “Check out ‘A Scandal In Hobohemia’ for a special twist..”?

    The most extreme and fun story is the fan fiction of fan fiction..
    ** What??

    In fact, not just Holmes is changed by this experience, so does John Watson becomes a variety of characters appears in a guises
    ** No words on this

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