Monday, April 14, 2014

The Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes

The Mammoth Book of the Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes by Denis O. Smith (2014) is an outstanding collection of non-canonical stories featuring the great detective. Smith manages to duplicate Watson's narrative voice with great skill--slipping only occasionally. The stories are very reminiscent of the original short stories without appearing to be mere copies of Doyle's work. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and finding myself once again on the fog-shrouded streets of Holmes's London. I have two minor quibbles. First, there are two longer stories--almost novella-length--included (making this a mammoth-sized book, indeed!) and Smith seems to lose his narrative voice most in these. He maintains Doyle's style much better in the shorter works. Second, I'm not certain what dictated the order of the stories--whether they were published as short stories elsewhere first and then gathered in publication/writing order or if some other criteria was used--but I would have enjoyed them a bit more if the stories had appeared chronologically per the Holmes/Watson relationship. We skip from them having roomed together for some time to Watson being married and no longer sharing rooms to a story from the earliest days of their shared rooms and then back forth between the first two options mentioned. Again, minor quibble that didn't prevent me from enjoying myself, it just caused a bit of a disruption in the flow of the work as a whole. Four and 1/4 stars. [finished late last night: 4/13/14]

 Here is a run-down of the stories included:
 "The Adventure of the Crimson Arrow": A man is killed with a certain archer's arrow. Holmes shows how it is possible that the archer in question is innocent.

"The Adventure of Kendal Terrace": Mr. Claydon comes home unexpectedly to find his entire household (wife & servants) missing and strangers in possession of the house as if they had always lived there. Holmes gets to the bottom of it all.

"A Hair's Breadth": Holmes uses a single hair to find the killer of a harmless old lady.

"The Adventure of the Smiling Face": A professor of Classical Archaeology is plagued with ominous notes and a tile with the face of a smiling woman. When the professor is found dead with only one set of footprints leading to the spot where he was found, the authorities are quick to call it accident. But Holmes knows better.

"The Adventure of the Fourth Glove": The Latchmere diamond has been stolen and Holmes must find the culprit. The clue is the fourth glove. (That's no spoiler...and I challenge you to figure out what the glove means.)

"The Adventure of the Richmond Recluse": Mr. David Boldero's brother has gone missing--apparently at the hands of their uncle who scooped the family fortune when their grandfather died. But there is no proof.  Holmes discovers what happened to the brother...and who really should have inherited.......

"The Adventure of the English Scholar": Mr. Rhodes Harte meets a learned English Scholar on the train.  When Dr. Kennett alights from the train, he leaves his satchel behind. Harte, a kindly good citizen, attempts to return the property...only to find himself in the middle of an international intrigue. He, of course, consults with Holmes who soon finds the truth of the matter.

"The Adventure of the Amethyst Ring": Holmes investigates the disappearance of Jack Prentice, a former dealer of stolen goods who has since gone straight.

The Adventure of the Willow Pool": Captain returns from India to find that his father and all of the townspeople have inexplicably taken against him. No one will tell him why (they all assume he knows what despicable thing he has done). Holmes finds the answer....and a murderer.

"The Adventure of Queen Hippolyta": Mr. Godfrey Townsend is abducted one morning on his way to the dentist and taken to a deserted house. His abductors leave for a short time (locking him in a room)...and fearing that he might be robbed of his expensive cigar case, he hides it under a floor board. The men return with a woman who is furious when she sees Townsend--they have grabbed the wrong man! He is knocked out and awakens in Hyde Park with no clue where the abandoned house might be. He comes to Holmes hoping he can help him find his case. Holmes does--and moreover discovers the secret behind the abduction.

"The Adventure of Dedstone Mill": Holmes takes on one of his youngest clients when Miss Harriet Borrow, age 14, engages him to help discover several things: who is trying to kill her younger brother, where their lovely aunt may be, and what happened to their friend, the tutor. It is a diabolical plot indeed.

"An Incident in Society": The military's secret codes have been copied and it's up to Holmes to stop the information from being passed to an infamous international spy.


fredamans said...

Ok, now even I would enjoy this one. I prefer Holmes in shorts... I've read some before. Does that mean I can only take him in small doses? ;-)

Fab review.

Bev Hankins said...

Quite possibly, Freda. :-)

Kym said...

I'm putting this on my list of books to check out. I like the idea of reading a series of short stories.