Usually, I open a review of a new MX collection by waxing lyrical about the stories and the calibre of the authors. This new collection of three volumes — XIX, XX, and XXI — certainly contain jewels, but before I tell you about my favourites, I want to beg and plead that before you delve into these, you first take the time to read the foreword by editor David Marcum.
Not Just “Always 1895” — a Hero for Now, is a masterclass in all things Sherlock Holmes. If you’re new to the Great Detective, or even if you can recite The Hound of the Baskervilles almost by heart, ahem, you will find that Mr Marcum’s precise examination of the Holmes and Watson legend puts the character and stories into a context that can only enhance your enjoyment of reading the stories that follow, as well as the original Conan Doyle tales. One of the things I love about David Marcum’s writings is that his Holmes, like mine, is a hero. And in this modern age of uncertainty and flawed leadership in many lands, we need real heroes more than ever.
Also, before I get to the business of reviewing — it’s coming, it’s coming! — I should acknowledge that I have a short story in this collection. I’ve been asked to review the stories David Marcum has assembled, but have received no remuneration other than a copy of the three volume set. All that said, let’s get to the stories.
Every tale is a gem and worthy of inclusion. The entire collection is a treat to read, and whether you’re a newcomer to Sherlock Holmes or a diehard fan, you’ll be delighted with it. Sadly, I can’t comment on every one of the stories, so I’ll just focus on the ones I particularly enjoyed. Initially, I’d planned to focus on three from each volume. Then I decided on ten in total. So how did I end up with thirteen? Your guess is as good as mine!
The collection opens with a story called A Case of Paternity by Matthew White. The author does a fine job of capturing Doyle’s style and the characters of Holmes and Watson. The story, too, fits nicely into the canon. I really enjoyed Mr White’s tale. It was an excellent opening to a wonderful collection. As I have said before, one of the joys of a collection like this is discovering new writers. In this recent 3-volume set, Matthew White is one of these. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.
The Scholar of Silchester Court by Nick Cardillo is nicely creepy. I found the resolution a little obvious, but that didn’t impact the power of the story. Accurate characterisations and a strong sense of setting made this a compelling story.
I’m a sucker for stories that involve Lestrade. MJH Simmonds’, The Adventure of the Changed Man does not disappoint, even though the Scotland Yard inspector plays a minor role. The story is fabulous, great plot, lots of twists and turns, and a pitch-perfect re-creation of Holmes and Watson. My only caveat is that the story is told in the third person, rather than the traditional Watsonian narrative. A minor quibble, and truly doesn’t detract from an excellent tale.
The Gordon Square Discovery by David Marcum is a story of shifting sands. The reader would be hard pressed to anticipate where the narrative will lead. Marcum has a brisk style and a thorough knowledge of Sherlockian lore. Reading any of his work is akin to receiving a masterclass in writing. My one caveat about this tale is I really disliked most of the characters. That means, of course, that they were well-drawn. I found the ending quite chilling.
The Nautch Night Case by Brenda Seabrooke sees Watson taking centre stage, at least at the beginning, when he is summoned in the middle of the night by Inspector Lestrade to examine the murder victim. The ensuing story feels more like Poirot than Sherlock Holmes, but that did not diminish my enjoyment.
The Atelier of Death by Harry deMaio was a fun read. A female artist, one of the famous Vernet family, appears to have been poisoned. The world of art really comes to life, and the story is a fascinating one. I wasn’t particularly surprised by the ending, but I did feel the journey the story took me on was intriguing.
Tracy Revels story, The Adventure of the Beauty Trap sees Mrs Mary Watson stepping into the action. The villain is a nasty piece of work and Holmes is his heroic self. This was another chilling ending that I enjoyed. (Yes, I know that makes me a sick puppy. Too bad.)
In general, I prefer my Holmes stories to be fairly traditional. However, the plot of S.F. Bennett’s The Tomorrow Man was so enticingly written that I could not ignore it. A man from the future (he says) comes to warn Holmes that he is to die the next day. I know — you can’t wait to read it either, can you?
Arthur Hall had me with his opening sentence: “During my long and extraordinary association with my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, we shared many adventures of a nature that I could easily have accepted as having a supernatural or unearthly basis.” Thus begins The Adventure of the Grand Vizier. The tale is one of mummies and mysterious goings on at the British Museum. It’s an intriguing story, and Mr Hall tells it well.
Jayantika Ganguly’s The Secret Admirer sees Holmes encounter a, well, secret admirer. The story is light and witty and is as close to meta as a traditional tale can be. I always enjoy Ms Ganguly’s stories, and this is one of her best.
The Cobbler’s Treasure by Dick Gillman is a well-crafted tale whose beginning reminded me of Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Papers. In every story he writes, Mr Gillman brings his scientific knowledge to bear. This, combined with a thorough familiarity with the Sherlock Holmes’ canon, enables him to craft some wonderful tales, of which this is most certainly one.
The Adventure of the Wells Beach Ruffians from the pen of Derrick Belanger sees Holmes in America, following his retirement. If capturing the style of Dr Watson is challenging, then emulating the style of Holmes himself is extremely difficult. After all, it’s not as though Sir Arthur offered a number of examples for the pasticher to follow. That Derrick Belanger does so without putting a foot wrong is a tribute to his talent. The story is intriguing with interesting, well-drawn characters, and a compelling plot.
My final choice is The Adventure of the Doctor’s hand by Michael Mallory is, like the Belanger story, a post-retirement tale. This one, however, sees Holmes and Watson reunited for one more case. That the client is Watson himself makes the story all the more apealling.
More about The books of new sherlock holmes stories ~ 2020
book XiX, XX, and XXI including information on how to order.
64 new, traditional Sherlock Holmes Stories making up the latest three volumes in the world’s largest collection of Sherlock Holmes Stories – XIX, XX and XXI, edited by David Marcum, published by MX Publishing.
In 2015, the first three volumes of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories arrived, containing over 60 stories in the true traditional Canonical manner, revisiting Holmes and Watson in those days where it is “always 1895” . . . or a few decades on either side of that. That was the largest collection of new Holmes stories ever assembled, and originally planned to be a one-time event. But readers wanted more, and the contributors had more stories from Watson’s Tin Dispatch Box, so the fun continued.
Now, with the release of Parts XIX, XX, and XXI, the series has grown to over 450 new Holmes adventures by nearly 200 contributors from around the world. Since the beginning, all contributor royalties go to the Stepping Stones School for special needs children at Undershaw, one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s former homes, and to date the project has raised nearly $60,000 for the school.
As has become the tradition, this new collection of 64 adventures features Holmes and Watson carrying out their masterful investigations from the early days of their friendship in Baker Street to the post-War years during Holmes’s retirement. Along the way they are involved in some fascinating mysteries – some relating Untold Cases, others sequels to Canonical adventures, and a number progressing along completely unexpected lines.
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.”
Featuring – Roger Riccard, Matthew White, Kevin P. Thornton, Chris Chan, Nick Cardillo, MJH Simmonds, Craig Stephen Copland, Will Murray, Ian Ableson, Thomas A. Turley, David Marcum, Dick Gillman, David Friend, Arthur Hall, Brenda Seabrooke, James Moffett, Robert Stapleton, Andrew Bryant, Will Murray, Andrew Bryant, Peter Coe Verbica, Sean M. Wright, and Tim Gambrell, with a poem by Christopher James, and forewords by John Lescroart, Roger Johnson, Lizzy Butler, Steve Emecz, and David Marcum