Friday, January 25, 2019

The Secret Files of Sherlock Holmes

The Secret Files of Sherlock Holmes (1990) by June Thomson is another collection of Holmes stories purporting to be from that battered tin dispatch case mentioned by Watson in "The Problem of Thor Bridge." Just imagine how big that case must have been (or how many separate pieces of that case there were)...given all the "discovered" stories that have appeared over the years. Thomson takes on the task of providing the world with the details behind Mr. James Phillimore's strange disappearance upon going back into his house for an umbrella; the secrets of the Amateur Mendicants; the case of Isadora Persano and the remarkable worm; and the real activities of the Notorious Canary Trainer...among others. Thomson gets a great many things right with these short stories--the relationship between Holmes and Watson, historical detail, and Watson's voice as narrator being the most notable. She does come up a bit short on story delivery in about half of these, however. Out of seven stories, one isn't solved at all and two are only half-solved. Not a great percentage for one of the greatest detectives of all time. And quite honestly there are only two solutions that I agree were necessary for Watson to keep quiet about--and only one due to national security. Given the great air secrecy shrouding these stories in the Canon, one can be forgiven for feeling a bit disappointed when the reasons for the delayed publication don't quite meet the level of caution implied in Watson's original accounts.

This was an amusing read, but not quite the knock-out Holmes pastiche that I expected. I had read enthusiastic reviews of her work featuring Holmes and looked forward to strong stories. It looks like this was her first collection of Holmes stories--perhaps her later collections are stronger. ★★

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1 comment:

Davida Chazan said...

This is one I think my husband would love!