Feb. 15, 2018

Before Holmes and Watson and Baker Street, Holmes was solving these cases…

Sherlock Holmes before Baker Street edited by David Marcum

My thanks go out to Derrick Belanger of Belanger Books for my copy of this volume of Holmes stories.

Some of these tales involve Holmes when he had rooms in Montague Street. Some of them take place during travels before Holmes settled in Baker Street. One even purports to be Holmes’ first case! In any advent, all of these stories predate Watson…

I could not make a decision on which story I liked the least because all of them are well thought out and expertly written! There simply isn’t a bad tale in the lot! I will name a “Best in Book” when we get there. On to the tales themselves:

In “The Adventure of the Bloody Roses” by Jayantika Ganguly—which may be Holmes’ first solving of a real case—a person has been murdered in Holmes’ childhood home! Kudos for the Oscar Wilde reference!

In “The Vingt-un Confession” by Derrick Belanger, the story is told in a confession booth by a man Holmes has aided. Kudos for a truly unique way to tell a story! Nice!

In “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the father of one of Holmes’ college friends is highly upset at Holmes’ reading of his person! Kudos for including the original artwork by Sidney Pagent!

In “The Affair of the Aluminum Crutch” by S Subramanian, we have a very good version of the tale mentioned in passing in “The Musgrave Ritual!” Loved the take on this story!

In “The Adventure of the Dead Ringer” by Robert Perret, a suspect visits a grave where the “dead man’s bell” to prevent premature burial is ringing… Kudos for the double meaning of the title! “

In “The Devil of the Deverills” by SF Bennett, a village Vicar seems obsessed with a local lady and talks of seeing the Devil in various places about the town… Kudos for the reveal of what’s happening! Very good!

In “The Painting in the Parlour” by David Marcum, the author has taken an actual painting he admired in an actual room in Montague Street and wrote his story around it! This gets “Best in Book” for taking an inspiration and writing a solid story! I might get accused of being a sycophant, but most who read my reviews know nothing could be further from the truth. This story is deserving, believe me!

 In “The Incident of the Absent Thieves” by Arthur Hall, art thieves strike the same home twice and then vanish without a trace. Kudos for an excellent twist in the story!

In “Mr. Chen’s Lesson” by Derrick Belanger, we meet one of the three men Holmes admits to being beaten by. (There was also a woman, of course, Irene Adler—The Woman!) Kudos for the unusual Mr. Chen!

In “The Adventure of the Amateur Emigrant,” Holmes encounters Robert Louis Stevenson while acting in a play in New York. Kudos for all the Treasure Island references!

In “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes solves a family riddle for another friend from college. Again kudos for the original illustrations from the Strand Magazine!

“A Day at the Races” by Mark Mower features something very like hell freezing over! Holmes takes a case that involves affairs of the heart! Will wonders never cease!

In “The Strange Case of the Necropolis Railway” by Geri Schear, we have the case Holmes was working on the day he met Doctor Watson! I cannot think of a better way to wrap up what has been one of the best anthologies ever! Encore!

I give this exciting volume five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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