May. 23, 2020

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XV 2019 Annual (1898-1917) by David Marcum

The tales continue…

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my copy of this book. Long may Sherlock Holmes and Undershaw House live and prosper!

Volume XV of this amazing series contains twenty-two short works of Sherlock Holmes fiction by some of the best writers it has ever been my pleasure to come to know. Hopefully, the few words I say about each story will whet the reader's appetite without spoiling the story. So onward to this selection of tantalizing tales!

After the many introductory articles, the book proper begins with two poems by Christopher James. I like the line about not leaving tobacco in my slippers!

  • Mark Mower starts us off with his short story “The Whitechapel Butcher.” A man discovers he is writing threats to a lodger in his home and has even woke up in the lodger’s room holding a knife! Not bad at all!
  • Thomas Fortenberry follows with “The Incomparable Miss Incognita.” A strange woman comes to Holmes about another who has been stabbed to death in the street. I think I know where the author is going here, but it is delightfully unclear!
  • Robert Perret is next, with “The Adventure of the Twofold Purpose.” Gregson brings Holmes the case of a body in a fairy circle. This one was remarkably interesting.
  • Tracy J Revels is next in line with “The Adventure of the Green Gifts.” A client wants to know who is sending gifts to his wife. I like it!
  • Robert Stapleton is next with “The Turk’s Head.” Holmes and Watson return to the Cornish coast in hopes of proving a man innocent of murder. Nice.
  • Peter Coe Verbica is next with “A Ghost in the Mirror.” Holmes is asked to investigate the murder of a farmer. I am not sure I like this one.
  • Maurice Barkley is next with “The Mysterious Mr. Rim.” Watson is introduced to a most unusual agent of Mycroft Holmes. I usually do not like stories that involve Mycroft, but this one is excellent.
  • Edwin A Enstrom is next with “The Adventure of the Fatal Jewel Box.” A man is killed by a gimmicked jewel box. The mystery here is clever and totally unexpected. Bravo!
  • William Todd is next with “Mass Murder.” Four men and a woman are poisoned at mass and the priest is accused of murder. It is ok.
  • Roger Riccard is next with “The Notable Musician.” Holmes is asked to look for John Philip Sousa’s missing crate of music instruments. I did not like it.
  • Next is Kevin I Jones with “The Devil’s Painting.” When a person dies of heart failure while restoring a painting, it sets off one of Holmes’ most unusual cases. Best in the book in my opinion.
  • Arthur Hall is next with “The Adventure of the Silent Sister.” A man’s inquiries into his sister’s changed habits lead Holmes to a strange crime. Not bad.
  • Next is Jack Grochot with “A Skeleton’s Sorry Story.” Holmes recounts the tale of how someone he captured avoided the hangman due to a sympathetic judge. It is so-s0.
  • David Marcum himself is next with “An Actor and a Rare One.” Back to Baskerville Hall, where so-called spirit writing is appearing on the walls. David, this one is a miss. I do like the Belgian Monsieur P mention!
  • Dick Gillman is next with “The Silver Bullet.” A woman is killed by a single shot—that leaves an entrance hole you could put your fist in and an exit hole the size of a dinner plate! It has an excellent mystery and the secondary story is equally interesting. Bravo!
  • Will Murry is next with “The Adventure of the Throne of Gilt.” Watson is threatened by someone calling themselves “Mr. Thursday.” Pulp writer Murry manages to bring an air of the fantastic plots of pulp villains into a Holmes story with astounding results! Up there with the other as best in the book.
  • Dick Gillman is next with “The Boy Who Would Be King.” A child is killed at school, possibly being mistaken for a foreign Archduke. This one goes into rather delicate matters. I find the ending a little unsatisfying.
  • Tim Symonds is next with “The Seventeenth Monk.” Holmes and Watson go to Crete on a case for Mycroft. Sorry, Tim, I do not really like this one.
  • Mike Hogan is next with “Alas, Poor Will.” Someone is trying to steal the skull of William Shakespeare. This one is just plain weird.
  • Leslie Charteris and Denis Green are next with the radio-play“The Case of the Haunted Chateau.” Interesting to see the creator of the Saint wrote this.
  • Nick Cardillo is next with “The Adventure of the Weeping Stone.” An excavation project on the beach below Holmes’ Sussex cottage is the scene of an unusual death and a stone that weeps blood. Interesting.
  • Darryl Webber ends the volume with “The Adventure of the Three Telegrams” A continuation of the Von Bork affair. It is Ok.

I find it absolutely awesome that this series has reached fifteen volumes with more in sight and no plans to stop! The stories in this volume ran the gambit from excellent to so-so to the ones I didn’t really like. But I cannot see giving these volumes anything less than four stars out of five.

Quoth the Raven…