To be completely fair, I haven’t read the entire series of currently available titles in the Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I’m read three of them, and I’ll try to limit my remarks to only those three titles.
First of all, I’d like to mention that the best thing about these books is the narrative. As a proper fan for the original works by the master, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I find the voice of Dr. Watson in each of these stories to match perfectly with the vocabulary and use, as well as the mind set, of the originals.
The first I read, right at the beginning of the New Year, was The Ectoplasmic Man. The story focuses on how Harry Houdini, recently on tour in London, made the mistake of demonstrating his act in front of several police from Scotland Yard. Then the very next day a crime takes place that only an escape artist could have achieved. Naturally, the recently impressed police arrest Houdini and Holmes is fast on the case to prove the frame up. This story was awesome and silly. On the one hand it reminded me, in concept only, of Scooby Doo when he met the Globetrotters and Batman. On the other hand, it was very specifically a classic Holmes tale that availed itself towards being a Houdini biography. Even better though, was that it wasn’t written like a biography, and instead kept my rather easily bored attention span. You get to see the trials and problems that Houdini had to go through as a Jew in a still predominantly Anti-Semitic culture. And of course, I enjoy any scenes in which Mycroft Holmes gets to partake. Not because I greatly like his character or feel he was never fully fleshed out, so much as I love the interaction between the brothers. This book was great and managed to entertain me thoroughly.
On a slightly more fantasy scale of things, we have the Seance for a Vampire. Only partially narrated by Watson, as parts of his manuscript were lost or not up to the par of the more recent narrator’s opinion. The rest of it though was narrated by Dracula, the Prince of all that is unholy as well as the distant cousin to Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. This story involves Holmes being asked to prove foul play in the death of a young woman who is of the lineage of a thief who wronged another thief, turned vampire, 200 years previously. Long story short, she’s a vampire now, and never wanted to be. Her entire turning is treated like a rape, an interesting way to put it, as it was sexual for the evil vampire (evil because he’s not Dracula), and because she really didn’t want to be turned, and now that she has been, she hates it. And while fantastic in that it includes vampires, one thing the author does is include historical notes about the rise of Stalin and the entire Russian aristocracy, including an introduction to Rasputin. It was both a great branch off into science fiction and a great telling of another Holmes tale.
The final of the three that I’ve read is The Man From Hell. This tale was more classic Holmes than the rest I think. No guest stars and no vampires. It even had a note at the beginning from Watson about how the characters are still alive and well and how the names must be changed in the retelling, which I thought was the most classic element of all three. Holmes is called to do his own investigation into the death of Lord Blackwater, who happens to have died, as the police put it, by poachers. Holmes immediately deducts that it’s not poachers, but a flat out murder. We learn about the mid-19th century penal system known as “the System” and how it effected children and men, and we learn of a mysterious group known as the Ring. The previous two kept my attention because of their guest stars. This one kept my attention because it was just a great mystery. I couldn’t put it down when Holmes was doing his thing. This one also had some very nice notes in the back for historical context, which I think only proper since anyone writing in the early 20th century would be referencing events I would know nothing about.
Long story short, all of the Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are more than worth your time and I encourage you to run or type your way to the mystery section of your bookstore or ereader and purchase a copy immediately.
Now I’m going to eat dinner and watch a cartoon.
This review was originally posted to an old blog of mine back on 1/27/2011.