Forget life, it’s the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories that’s really like a box of chocolates. After all, life doesn’t give you an index to hint at the goodies in store. With an MX anthology you get, not only a list of titles and authors, but several introductions, as well. No need to wonder if your favourite Holmes pastiche authors are present — you know the ones I mean. These are the writers who make you salivate as soon as you see their names, because they always deliver a cracking story. They are here, you’ll be happy to know. Certainly, all my favourites are. Are yours? I also found many writers I had been wanting to read, but hadn’t got around to. This was my chance and, oh, I’m so glad I finally got around to it because I now have some new favourites. And, of course, this box–uh, book–offers a few surprise newcomers. Would these be the literary equivalent of chocolate truffle (yum!), or marzipan (bleauch!)
In a collection of this size — seventeen tales in each volume — there’s plenty of scope for surprises. For instance, there are radio plays, one of which is co-written by The Saint‘s Leslie Charteris; a story featuring Lestrade; as well as one told by Holmes alone. Then there’s… No, I shouldn’t spill too many chocolate beans.
One thing I particularly like about modern pastiche stories, is the best of them hold their own with the original Conan Doyle canon, while adding context and, often, emotional complexity that those first tales sometimes skimped.
So do yourself a favour. Sit in your comfy chair, get a cup of your favourite tipple, and turn down the world. It’s time to return to Victorian London where dastardly deeds are sure to fail, thanks to one Sherlock Holmes and the estimable Dr Watson, aided, on occasion, by Lestrade, Mycroft, Mrs Hudson, and the Irregulars. Ah, bliss.
This particular box of chocolates–with not a marzipan in sight–comes without calories or health warnings. Each story is a delight. You will be tempted to gorge yourself on several tales in one sitting. Try to resist. There is so much to savour here, and with a total of thirty-four tales, you can afford to make the pleasure last.
The secret centre of each of these stories is they each link to a reference in a canonical Conan Doyle tale (or, indeed, more than one). Part of the fun for me, because I’m weird and my brain works that way, was trying to figure out which reference each linked to. Sadly, I didn’t get too many right–which just means I have an excuse to read the entire original 60 Conan Doyle stories again. Oh, the hardship!
Before I talk favourites, I should add that all the authors in this and every MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories since Volume I donates their royalties to Stepping Stones School. You can read more about this wonderful project at the bottom of this blog.
With 34 wonderful stories in this book, it’s hard to select favourites, but I’ve narrowed it down to a handful. The ones I’ve selected are based on my own criteria which are: accurate portrayal of the canonical characters, use of language that echoes Conan Doyle, and a plot that is fiendish enough to justify Holmes’s involvement. Extra points for a particularly clever link to the canonical reference. These are my magnificent seven. (It was supposed to be five. Then six. I had to force myself to stop at seven. You’ll understand when you read these stories yourself. I could happily gush about every tale in this wonderful collection.)
The Most Repellant Man by Jayantika Ganguly
This is a sneaky little tale, deceptively gentle, with a commanding use of language and a wonderful understanding of character. I don’t want to say too much about it lest I spoil the surprise for other readers. Enjoy!
Colonel Warburton’s Madness by Gayle Lange Puhl
An old acquaintance from Watson’s military days is committed to an asylum. Surely there must be some skullduggery afoot. I can give no higher praise than to say this story felt like something Conan Doyle wrote, but chroniclers forgot to include in his canon. It feels so authentic in language, in depiction of character, and in the fiendishness of the plot. If stories were chocolates, this would be the rich truffle you keep to the very end because it’s the perfect ending.
The Shanghaied Surgeon by CH Dye
I was too caught up in this story to even wonder about the original source. It’s more adventure story than proper Holmes mystery, but so much fun, I really can’t quibble.
The Trusted Advisor by David Marcum
In addition to being the trusted editor of MX collections, David Marcum is a much-admired, one might almost say revered, author in his own right. His tales never fail to capture to tone of the original Conan Doyle tales, nor surprise the reader with his imaginative plots. With Mr Marcum, the reader feels he or she is in the hands of a true master, very much in the mold of Dr Doyle.
The Adventure of the Dishonourable Discharge by Craig Janacek
I’m a sucker for a well-researched tale, and Mr Janacek has done his homework. Added to which, he has a fine ear for dialogue and a keen understanding of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. His Dr W is no duffer, either.
The Adventure of the Black Plague by Paul D Gilbert
Another adventure tale from the redoubtable Mr Gilbert, a gentleman who is one of the most accomplished and knowledgeable Sherlock Holmes’ writers around. This one is a real treat. Save it for a rainy night. Mr Gilbert’s work thrives on atmosphere, like a single malt scotch. You can thank me later.
A Correspondence Concerning Mr James Phillimore by Derrick Belanger
I had promised myself I would keep my list of favourites to a half-dozen, but that proved impossible. A new Derrick Belanger Sherlock Holmes tale? Everybody hush. I’ve got some reading to do. This story is a collection of letters in which… No. You know what? It would be cruel to spoil any part of this tale. You’ll just have to read it for yourself.
To sum up, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Vol XI and XII is a winner. No matter what type of Holmes tale you like, whether it’s the cosy Baker Street deduction, or the exotic adventure; Holmes the cold analyst, or Holmes the sympathetic friend, you’ll find what you want here. These stories are written by masters and mistresses of the craft. I cannot recommend the collection highly enough.
Sales links are at the bottom of this blog.
Part XI: 1880-1891 includes contributions from Jayantika Ganguly, Will Murray, Tracy Revels, Hugh Ashton, Matthew Simmonds, David Ruffle, Paul W. Nash, Mike Hogan, Craig Stephen Copland, Gayle Lange Puhl, Deanna Baran, Leslie Charteris and Denis Green, Roger Riccard, Robert Perret, Kevin P. Thornton, Stephen Herczeg, and M.A. Wilson and Richard Dean Starr, and a poem by Arlene Mantin Levy and Mark Levy.
Part XII: 1894-1902 features contributions from C.H. Dye, David Marcum, Thomas Fortenberry, Daniel D. Victor, Nik Morton, Craig Janacek, S. Subramanian, Jim French, Robert Stapleton, Nick Cardillo, Paul D. Gilbert, Mike Hogan, Derrick Belanger, John Linwood Grant, Mark Mower, Jane Rubino, and Arthur Hall, and a poem by “Anon.”
34 new traditional Holmes adventures in two simultaneously published volumes
“Somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, there is a travel-worn and battered tin dispatch box with my name, John H. Watson, M.D., Late Indian Army, painted upon the lid. It is crammed with papers, nearly all of which are records of cases to illustrate the curious problems which Mr. Sherlock Holmes had at various times to examine . . . .” – Dr. John H. Watson
So wrote Dr. Watson in “The Problem of Thor Bridge” – and ever since, Sherlockians have been bringing us new adventures from this legendary tin dispatch box. While his original Literary Agent only edited the pitifully few sixty stories that make up the original Canon, there have since been literally thousands of traditional adventures about the true Sherlock Holmes – and there will never be enough!
Throughout the original Holmes Canon, there were hints and teases of other intriguing cases – The Giant Rat of Sumatra . . . The Abernetty Tragedy . . . The Manor House Case. Watson mentions well over one-hundred of these, which have collectively come to be known as The Untold Cases. Now, the latest MX anthologies present thirty-four of those adventures in two simultaneously published volumes, with all royalties going to support the Stepping Stones School at Undershaw, one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former homes.
Join us as we return to Baker Street and discover more authentic adventures of Sherlock Holmes, described by the estimable Dr. Watson as “the best and wisest . . . whom I have ever known.”
Each volume contains forwards by Lyndsay Faye, Roger Johnson, Melissa Grigsby, Steve Emecz, and David Marcum.
ABOUT MX PUBLISHING
MX Publishing is a social enterprise focussing on publishing the very best in Sherlock Holmes fiction and related historical works. We also have a division working on coaching, NLP and business books. We run MX alongside our day jobs with the help a of a team of supporters and volunteers. We’re involved in a number of projects, but have two main organisations we support, both logistically and financially. One in the UK and one in Kenya.
Happy Life Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya. Sharon and Steve volunteer there every xmas, fundraise, work on special projects etc). Happy Life rescues abandoned babies in Nairobi and works to get as many children as possible adopted. The remainder stay with the project through to school age and the program has about 110 children (having saved around 500 in total). In 2014 Sharon and Steve wrote the book ‘The Happy Life Story’ which the team use for fundraising and awareness around the world – especially in the USA where a lot of the fundraising comes from. In additional to sponsorship and general fundraising we also do special projects. In 2016 we funded two table tennis tables and all the associated equipment to set up a new indoor sport for the older children at the Juja Farm site. As a former county player Steve was able to then teach the teachers and children last Christmas.
Stepping Stones School is one of Europe’s leading schools for children with learning disabilities of which Steve is now a patron. Their new home since September 2016 is Undershaw, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former home and where he wrote many of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Our main project with them is The MX New Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories. Inspired by editor David Marcum, it was originally planned to be one volume of around thirty stories in October 2015, but this quickly snowballed into a huge ongoing project.
Volumes I-VIII of the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories have come out with over 100 authors taking part. With at least 2 volumes a year, it’s the largest collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories in the world by far. All authors donate their royalties to Stepping Stones school. It’s been licensed into India and Japan too. The latest project at Undershaw we are helping funding is the creative writing centre.