Author: Loren D. Estleman.
Publisher: Tyrus Books
ISBN-13: 978-1440544149

There's no avoiding it—every year, Sherlock Holmes is going to be resurrected in one form or another. Over the years, most novelists have tended to cast Holmes and Watson in the Victorian era of their origins while films and television series have these beloved characters fighting Nazi spies or, this fall, investigating clever criminals in New York in the present day. Often, there's an attempt to have the fictional resident of 221b Baker Street take on historical cases like Jack the Ripper or participate in mash-ups with Holmes and Watson encountering fellow literary characters of their time.

Loren D. Estleman has dived into these waters before with his novels Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, or the Adventure of the Sanguinary Count and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes. Now, his Perils of Sherlock Holmes has Holmes and Watson crossing paths with even more familiar folks, both historic and literary.

That's because Perils is a collection of short stories and essays and is apparently the first such collection by one author since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's own 1927 The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. With one exception, these are adventures that were previously published in various periodicals.

In "The Adventure of the Arabian Knight," Holmes and Watson meet the historic adventurer, Sir Richard Burton. While they don't meet Charles Dickens in "The Adventure of the Three Ghosts," there are plenty of overt nods to a certain Christmas story. While straining to set-up "The Adventure of the Coughing Dentist," Estleman sends Holmes and Watson to the Old West to help out Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Holmes and Watson don't specifically battle Fu Manchu, but they investigate the "Riddle of the Golden Monkeys" to help out Manchu's creator, Sax Rohmer. Some mysteries aren't fully solved.  In "The Devil and Sherlock Holmes," it's left open as to just who
or what Holmes encounters in a London hospital.

Throughout, Estleman demonstrates a mastery of Holmesania and historical detail as well as a dead-on mimicking of Conan Doyle's cadence and style. He also has fun with the characters not only with the mash-ups, but with "DR. AND MRS. WATSON AT HOME," a one-act play with the Watsons engaged in repartee about what the good doctor does when he's not at home. The one new story, "The Serpent’s Egg," is actually the first chapter of a never completed round-robin novel. Hence, we get intriguing glimpses into a tale of Stonehenge and ancient magic . . . but that's all we get.
There are also three essays, "Channeling Holmes," a revised paper which serves as the book's introduction, "On the Significance of Boswells," a serviceable defense of Dr. John Watson, and "Was Sherlock Holmes The Shadow?" in which Estleman gets tongue-in-cheek to make a seemingly impossible connection. To wrap things up, Estleman has an interesting annotated bibliography of suggested further reading.

All in all, The Perils of Sherlock Holmes is an entertaining and diverting read that can be happily enjoyed in short bites. There are plenty of clever bits of deduction and surprising twists along with the fun of seeing Holmes interact with his real and fictional contemporaries. Sure, some passages are a bit contrived, but that's not far afield from the original tales. And if you liked the Conan Doyle adventures, there's plenty here to keep you turning the pages and try to make your own deductive reasoning.

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