Audie Award Winner, Short Stories/Collections, 2014 The world's greatest detective leaves his native shores and travels to the most dangerous land of all...America! Just in time for Sherlock Holmes, the major motion picture starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law: the world’s greatest fictional detective and his famous sidekick Dr. Watson are on their first trip across the Atlantic as they solve crimes all over 19th-century America - from the bustling neighborhoods of New York, Boston, and D.C. to fog-shrouded San Francisco. The world’s best-loved British sleuth faces some of the most cunning criminals America has to offer and meets some of America’s most famous figures along the way. This exciting new anthology features over a dozen original short stories by award-winning and prominent writers, each in the extraordinary tradition of Conan Doyle, and each with a unique American twist. Featuring new stories by:
Edgar Award-winner Daniel Stashower Edgar Award-winner Jon L. Breen Shamus Award-winner Loren Estleman Derringer Award-winner Steve Hockensmith Anthony Award-winner Bill Crider And many more!
The nostalgic anthology Sherlock Holmes in America gives some of America’s best mystery writers a chance to imagine the famous sleuth at work across the pond. The 14 stories here are in chronological order, and are set in various regional pockets. The stylish and diffident Holmes crosses the Atlantic. His celebrity precedes him. As happens back home, his clients range from the obscure to the famous. Holmes retains his uncanny powers of deduction, and manages to solve tricky and dangerous interpersonal puzzles. The writers included here conjure Holmes and Watson without distortion, and thrust the ultra-civilized duo in conflict with purely American villains. The stories have local flavor and American upstart ruggedness. Graeme Malcolm narrates in a tone filled with irony and energetic wit.
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On the whole this is a far better than average collection of Sherlockian stories. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how the different authors opted to bring Holmes to the States while respecting Conan Doyle's canon. The best tales here are excellent, most are good, and few are disappointments. The narration was fantastic - evocative and skilled with the various accents used, both British and American.
Lyndsay Faye's "The Case of Colonel Warburton's Madness" tackles one of the canonical unchronicled cases with great success, underscoring not only Holmes's impressive deductive abilities, but also Watson's inherent decency and empathy. It's a delight to have Watson relate an unsolved mystery from his days in San Francisco to help his friend battle crippling boredom. San Francisco's a compelling character here. Given how much I enjoyed Faye's DUST AND SHADOW, I'm unsurprised that I liked this so much.
In "Ghosts and the Machine," Lloyd Rose offers a fascinating glimpse into Mycroft's and Sherlock's younger years and relationship (from Mycroft's point of view, quite well done), as well as a poignant window into real-life characters from the history of the Spiritualist movement.
Steve Hockensmith's "Excerpts from an Unpublished Memoir Found in the Basement of the Home for Retired Actors" is a delight, both for the ridiculously self-important voice of its narrator and the its evocative descriptions of The Whelp (that is, a young Sherlock Holmes, "treading the boards" as a company player in the wilds of America). Great fun with lovely insights into a young but already recognizable Holmes.
Robert Pohle's "The Flowers of Utah" offers a "What if?" spin on some of the not-so-tied-up loose ends from "A Study in Scarlet," but it thinks it's cleverer than it is, and the payoff from the "infodump" doesn't justify abandoning the rest of the story as Pohle does. This fell rather flat for me, the first disappointment of a volume that's otherwise been excellent.
Loren D. Estleman's "The Adventure of the Coughing Dentist" has Holmes and Watson working with Wyatt Earp to prove Doc Holliday innocent of false charges of murder before he's lynched. The character voices are wonderful here, as is the portrait of the still young and growing friendship between Holmes and Watson.
Victoria Thompson in "The Minister's Missing Daughter" provides a mystery that's quite easily solved, but that's rather the point, as the community's and family's general assumptions about an exploited wallflower of a girl have blinded everyone from seeing the obvious truth about her fate. This is not a standout story, but it has its own quiet charm.
"The Case of Colonel Crockett's Violin" by Gillian Linscott is a story about Holmes and Watson in San Antonio determining which, among a field of several choices, is the authentic violin owned by Davy Crockett and rescued from the Alamo. A solid effort.
Bill Crider's "The Adventure of the White City" needed to be about twice as long as it is to do justice to its ambitious premise (mixing the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Wovoka, and the Ghost Dance). Although it felt rushed and very thin in patches, the main theme was more than worthy, and I appreciate the thought behind the not-quite-fully-realized story.
In "Recalled to Life," Paula Cohen offers a story from the Great Hiatus in which Holmes saves the career of a framed former New York detective. A very satisfying story and a compelling original character.
Daniel Stashower's "The Seven Walnuts" shows a Holmes-obsessed Harry Houdini and his brother employing the Great Detective's methods to solve a local mystery after Holmes's "death." Clever, but I missed Holmes and Watson.
Matthew Pearl's "The Adventure of the Boston Dromio" is a very satisfying and complex mystery showing Holmes at the height of his deductive powers as he helps Watson save the man who once saved Watson's life. Quite well done.
Carolyn Wheat's "The Case of the Royal Queens" is another good mystery, and it offers glimpses into both Holmes's past and his future life with bees. A solid and wryly told tale.
The May-December romance for Sherlock Holmes in Michael Breathnach's "The Song at Twilight" is a bit odd and not entirely convincing, but I do appreciate how the story fits into the canon of THE VALLEY OF FEAR and "His Last Bow," and how it underscores the manner in which sovereign, country, and his brother all manipulate the aging and supposedly retired Sherlock Holmes.
Michael Walsh's essay is somewhat suggestive, if not persuasive, although I don't see how its theme (of anti-Hibernian sentiment in the canon) fits that of this volume. Christopher Redmond's piece on Doyle's travels in the United States is more descriptive than analytical, but it adds useful context to the focus of the collection. It's lovely that this volume ends with Conan Doyle's own comments on "The Romance of America."
I'm a Sherlock Holmes/fan, with a little "f" in fan. That translates as 'I know when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted (1902); that he was a medical doctor (University of Edinburgh, 1881); and that he died in 1930. I have all of the Holmes stories and novels in two leather bound books with small print and pages edged in gold. They were probably meant to be decorative, but I've read and reread them so many times, the bindings are coming off.
I am glad that writers like Robert Pohle, Gillian Linscott, and Lyndsay Faye are Fans with a big "F" for Fanatic. Their admiration of Doyle and his writing style made this an enjoyable collection of "new" Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
Some plots were more intricate than others. In a few cases, I solved the mystery in a few minutes. I kept listening, hoping I was wrong and was disappointed to be right. The writing was uneven - some language was spot on; other dialogue was wooden, forced and anachronistic. What worked very well was listening to the narrator, Graeme Malcolm because no matter whose writing, it's the same "voice".
Each story is about 30 to 45 minutes long, which is a good length for my commute.
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