Jul. 27, 2017

More stories rejected by The Strand Magazine

The Final Tales of Sherlock Holmes Volume Four: The Case of the Kew Gardens Gnomes by John A Little

My thanks go out to Steve and Time at MX Books for my copy of this book!

John A Little once again delves into that pile of manuscripts deemed inappropriate for publication in the Strand. The first story in the volume, the titular story, is actually quite good. There has been a series of arsons, one of which has killed Wiggins’ wife and two of his children. The unique firebombs used in the crimes are amazing, and the mystery well penned.

In the second story, “Sherlock Holmes and The Portobello Photographer,” the finding of an obscene photograph in a bag Watson bought for Holmes at a Flea Market—yes, you read that right—sends Holmes and Watson after an old enemy. Not bad!

The final three stories I do not think were John A Little at his best. All three just didn’t get anywhere near the tone or setting of a Holmes story. I understand that these are presented as rejected manuscripts, but Watson’s style and turn of phrase would still come through even in works not really acceptable for publication. Where Holmes himself does the writing, they are even further from the tone of stories like “The Lion’s Mane.”

To be sure, Little presents the tales as told by two men in their seventies. Watson is dying and in pain, and he drinks more than usual. Holmes has few cases and is hooked on cocaine. But we are still talking about Doyle’s intrepid duo, and they have not been at their best before, and the stories didn’t suffer.

There were five stories in this volume and only two of them were winners in my humble opinion. So I will give two stars for the two good stories…

Quoth the Raven…

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