Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, edited by David Thomas Moore, is a Holmesian anthology of short stories that takes the famous sleuth through time and space (available October 7, 2014).
This new anthology contains fourteen stories rather than two hundred and twenty-one, but it provides more than enough variety for Holmesians. Following in the path of older anthologies such as Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space (edited by Asimov, Greenburg, and Waugh) and Ellery Queen’s parodic The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets explores adventures that Arthur Conan Doyle likely never imagined, and versions of Holmes and Watson from times and places far distant from Victorian London. The stories include mysteries, of course, but the true enjoyment lies in seeing how many ways these familiar characters may be manipulated and reimagined.
Jamie Wyman’s “A Scandal in Hobohemia” opens the anthology with a 1930s set story featuring a white Holmes, who runs a traveling carnival and uses his skills to tell fortunes in female garb, and a black Watson with a prosthetic leg courtesy of the Great War. Even their names have changed, but their relationship seems to be set on the same path.
Kelly Hale’s “Black Alice” shifts Sherlock and Watson to the 17th century, pitting deduction against folk belief, while “The Rich Man’s Hand” by Joan De La Haye incorporates actual magic into a horror story set in contemporary South Africa. Kasey Lansdale’s “The Patchwork Killer” is a horror story as well, using a later-generation Watson as a point of view character.
Glen Mehn’s dark “Half There/All There” transports Holmes and Watson to the drug-infused world of Andy Warhol’s Factory and presents them through a drugged, distorted lens. J. E. Cohen’s “The Adventure of the Speckled Bandana” also shifts the pair to the 1970s United States:
Of course everyone is aware of the role that Holmes played in solving the Puzzle of the Grassy Knoll, and his key actions laying bare the full extent of the Watergate Scandal; but in my extensive notes, I also find records of the sensational case of the Abhorrent Disco…”
Kaaron Warren shifts location to Australia, for “The Lantern Men” in which Holmes has become, of all things, an architect, but he still has a mystery to solve, and remains friends with Watson, a builder. Emma Newman’s “A Woman’s Place” shifts point of view to a reimagined Mrs. Hudson in a futuristic London with a male Holmes and a female Watson, while “All the Single Ladies” by Gini Koch does the reverse gender-switch, a female Holmes investigating a male Watson in a case of serial murder. The final story in the anthology, Jenni Hill’s “Parallels” reinvents the pair completely as teenage girls, exploring fanfictional versions of Holmes and Watson along with their own relationship.
Guy Adams’ “A Study in Scarborough” has the most unusual format; it involves an imaginary classic BBC radio comedy featuring the pair, and the man who is investigating it. In “The Final Conjuration,” Adrian Tchaikovsky’s canonical version of Holmes is summoned to an Asian-inflected fantasy world by a wizard who believes him a “demon of thought.” James Lovegrove’s “The Innocent Icarus” brings magic to London; Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson are both clairvoyants of varying degrees.
Comics writer Ian Edginton’s “The Small World of 221B” is my favorite in the anthology, a metafictional examination of Holmes, Watson, and canon itself, with guest appearances by a few other famous literary characters and the feel of a missing Dr. Who episode:
“Doctor, some here see, but choose to say nothing. Others do not see at all, but you and I, we know everything is not as it appears. Do we look as strange to you, as you do to us?”
I hesitated for a moment, uncertain how to reply to her cryptic question, but there was truly only one answer. “Yes. Although to my eyes, it is as if you are all living in the past.”
“You’re not the first person to say that. There have been others, like yourself, who have passed through Longbourn. And others still who looked to us to be from even older times. Clad in doublet and hose. It is as if... there are different ages occupying the same space, like books upon a shelf, where the edge of one brushes against another.”
As fantastic as it sounded, I could not fault her reasoning. There was a sharp mind and keen intellect at work here. “How do you come by that conclusion?”
“Observation and analysis. The acquisition of information. If I hear of a visitor in the vicinity, a new face, I make a point of interviewing them. After that, I attempt to reach a logical conclusion, however seemingly impossible the facts. If there is no other explanation, it simply must be the truth.”
I could not help but smile.
Mrs. Darcy, however, did not. “Do I amuse you, sir?”
“No, please do not be offended. Your methodology is very similar to that of a good friend of mine, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. A detective of some repute.”
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streetsis a worthy addition to the ever-expanding universe of Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation.
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