2017 is the 130th anniversary of the publication of A Study in Scarlet, the first recorded adventure of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson.
What an amazing journey it’s been! In addition to the pitifully few sixty tales originally presented in The Canon, published between 1887 and 1927, there have been literally thousands of additional Holmes adventures in the form of books, short stories, radio and television episodes, movies, manuscripts, comics, and fan fiction. And yet, for those who are true friends and admirers of the Master Detective of Baker Street, where it is always 1895 (or a few decades on either side of that!) these stories are not enough. Give us more!
In 2015, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories burst upon the scene, featuring stories set within the correct time period, and written by many of today’s leading Sherlockian authors from around the world. Those first three volumes were overwhelmingly received, and there were soon calls for additional collections. Since then, the popularity has only continued to grow. Two more volumes were released in 2016, and this the first of two planned for 2017 – with no end in sight! The thirty-five stories in this volume – now bringing the total number of narratives and participating authors in this series to well over one-hundred! – represent some of the finest new Holmesian storytelling to be found, and honor the man described by Watson as “the best and wisest … whom I have ever known.” All royalties from this collection are being donated by the writers for the benefit of the preservation of Undershaw, one of the former homes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
I’m delighted and honoured to have a story included in this anthology. Not just because the cause–the preservation of Undershaw–is one dear to my heart, but because it’s such a thrill to be included in a volume with the likes of Derrick Belanger, Hugh Ashton, Marcia Wilson, Tracy Revels, Molly Carr, David Ruffle, David Marcum, Tim Symonds, and so many others of my heroes.
My story The Bubble Reputation was inspired in part by a conversation I had with editor David Marcum. He likes my Sherlock Holmes novels but, purist that he is, takes issue with my having the temerity to give the great man a wife. I decided to have a little fun and the story begins with the following:
Over breakfast one late May morning, I peered through the pages of The Pall Mall Magazine and released a loud snort. “Well,” I said, “this is one of the most preposterous stories I’ve read in a long time.” I handed the journal to Sherlock Holmes.
He chuckled. “Well, as someone once said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” He skimmed the offending article and tossed the journal back to me without further comment.
“It is outrageous, Holmes,” I cried. “You should sue.”
“Tut, Watson, you make too much of a trifle. The story is ludicrous, to be sure, but there is no harm in it.”
I was, I confess, irked that he did not share my sense of outrage. It galled my sensibilities to see the press circulate a story that was an utter fabrication. Insinuating my friend had a secret wife; indeed, a string of female companions. Outrageous! As I attacked my kippers, I reflected that Holmes had been the subject of a number of preposterous rumours since I published my first story about him. My Study in Scarlet made him a hero in the eyes of many, and that image was enhanced by subsequent tales. I suppose I may have had something to do with creating that impression since it was a view I shared. Despite his vices, he remained in my estimation the very best of men. Suggesting my friend was an opium addict, a Don Juan, or a government spy seemed beyond the pale…
The story that follows continues in the same tongue-in-cheek vein. Do check out the new MX anthology. You can find more here.