Book Reviews

Book Review- alt.sherlock.holmes by Wyman, Koch, and Mehn

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This book was reviewed for San Francisco Book Review

alt.sherlock.holmes is a collection of short stories showcasing work from three different authors. The name of this game seems to have been to distill the most essential traits of Sherlock and Watson, and barest essentials from Doyle’s stories, throw them in the blender, along with healthy doses of traits/values/morals of the time era in question and see what comes out.


The era in which an individual grew up, and the resources of their relative social class certainly shape what they will become. In the first set of stories, by Jaime Wyman, we meet Sanford Haus, proprietor of a travelling circus. He’s a lanky boy with ginger curls, he loves to play, loves to dress up to observe people. But Sanford, or Crash as he prefers, still has Conan Doyle Sherlock’s steely will, and fierce determination. He is, by the by, far more of a flirt than most Sherlocks. Here, Dr Jim Walker, is a soldier returned from the Great War, now a Pinkerton agent. A case brings Walker in contact with Crash, and the partnership formed.


I really enjoyed Wyman’s title choices- Scandal in Hobohemia, Case of the Tattooed Bride. I found them to be a wonderful homage to Doyle’s legacy. I also enjoyed the myriad hidden references to other of Doyle’s original stories, like the Speckled Band! Wyman’s stories flowed elegant, yet playful as Crash himself. I was very very disappointed when these stories ended. I want more Crash!


Next up are two stories- All the Single Ladies, A Study in Starlets- by Gina Koch, which takes time and place a step further, with a female Sherlock, which of course, changes the game. Women think very differently from men. Kudos to Koch for finding a believable female Sherlock. She and Watson meet first on a case at the school he was teaching in. Sherlock, rightly guessing Watson’s boredom, offers him a partnership for being consulting detectives. I wasn’t as much into Koch’s writing style, but that’s personal preference, and this Sherlock and Watson were amusing to read.


Glen Mehn finished out the collection with two stories set in the late 1960s or so- Half There/ All There, The Power of Media. This was probably the most unexpected Sherlock in here. Really, gonna leave this one to the imagination. This is a time era that can, and did, really exacerbate Sherlock’s addictive nature. It’s also an era I don’t much enjoy, history or culture-wise. The writing style was okay. Another quick grammar/ spell-checking would not be amiss for these two stories.

???? Recommended especially for those who collect Sherlock stories, would be enjoyable to fans of mystery stories in general. Just a warning that they are kinda short, and prone to creating a longing for more stories from the characters’ lives. And I went and bought the Kindle version of Two Hundred and Twenty-one Baker Streets. Haha. So that worked.

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