The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories

The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) - Otto Penzler

[I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.]

A huge collection of Sherlock Holmes-related short stories—as is made obvious from the title—written by various authors: some who were Doyle's contemporaries, some from the late 1990s or even 2000s, and some from the 20th century. Mostly two kinds of stories are represented: “serious” Holmes adventures, and humorous ones (the latter ranging from light pastiches to ridiculous ones).

Breaking down this collection into separate commentary for each story (there are 83!) would be too long and time-consuming, so I won't do this here, and keep to a more general commentary. As in every anthology, there are good things and less than interesting ones; as the editor himself wrote in the introduction, some of those are worth a shot because they were never reprinted, and were only published in obscure magazines in their time. In my case, I realised that I didn't really care about the comical Holmes stories: I guess I like my Sherlock somewhat “serious”, although I'm also known for liking heroic sociopath versions of him (see Thomas Day).

Among the most memorable ones for me:
* “The Case of the Unseen Hand”, which goes back on the Dreyfus affair. (And that was *quite* a big deal in late 19th France).
*“The Martian Crown Jewels” — one the rare really different takes on Sherlock Holmes here (considering it's science fiction).
* “A Case of Mis-Identity”, both quite amusing and clever, in presenting different points of view about the same situation.
* “The Startling Events in the Electrified City” — a plot against President McKinley's life.

While I still think a lot of these stories had an interest only as quirky little examples of what was once done regarding the Holmes & Watson corpus, this is a collection still worth borrowing, for want of actually buying the book.