Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Encounters of Sherlock Holmes

I guess I call myself a Sherlock Holmes fan, although I've not read a lot of the original stories and tend to like the concept more than the execution. I don't watch Elementary, and I'd like to watch the BBC Sherlock at some point, but it's not really on the top of my list. I've enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr films well enough, and even with Holmes being a bit of a fad at the moment, I've found the overall output to be mixed.

Regardless, I got a copy of this volume of Holmes stories, Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, via Titan Books. Most of the stories within are Holmes mysteries with a splash of fantasy (and one science fiction story as well), and I figured it'd be worth the time.

The good news is that there are a lot of solid authors here. You have television writers, genre stars, and so on. The writing is pretty good, and the concept works. The bad news, unfortunately, is that the stories don't. They're mostly unmemorable, I found, with many of the stories blending together rather easily. The handful that stood out (like the Martian encounter story) aren't nearly as good as the concept they start out with. It's unfortunate, especially with the pedigree within the lineup and the editor, George Mann, who's on his second Holmes book in this series and who has some well-regarded books in his repertoire as well.

The whole book ultimately feels like a miss. I'm sure there are fun, interesting ways to combine Holmesian mystery with fantasy or sci-fi or horror elements in a way that is both interesting and modern while also keeping the same tone and aesthetic we all come to expect from a Sherlock Holmes story.

This didn't really work for me in a way I had hoped it would. Maybe a different concept or conceit would have helped? I'm not sure, but this might be one you should consider skipping unless you're a Sherlock superfan.

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