Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly
A Sherlock Holmes Collection of Short Stories by Donald Thomas
Review: Donald Thomas produces his fifth volume of Sherlock Holmes adventures, based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring three new stories narrated by Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly.
Writing pastiches of Sherlock Holmes stories carries both benefits and risks. The characters are well-known and there is a ready audience of interested readers eager to follow the further adventures of the first consulting detective. However, it's easy to disappoint that very same audience, especially if an author tries to stray too far afield, impressing their own vision of the well established characters on the reader. In this latest volume by Thomas, the author generally stays true to the original canon — itself both a compliment and a criticism.
Four stories are presented here, though to be fair, one of these, "Sherlock Holmes the Actor" is basically a brief backstory to "The Case of the Matinee Idol". All three stories — the other two are "The Case of a Boy's Honour" and "The Case of the Ghosts of Bly" — are far too long, with details relating to the matter at hand presented repeatedly. Doyle is guilty of this as well in the original stories, and it is one aspect of his work that need not be faithfully replicated. As narrator, Watson does a fine job summarizing each case and their respective roles, but he depicts Holmes in a much softer light than Doyle ever did. In some respects it's probably more realistic to do so, and is certainly more personable, but it also dulls to some degree the sharp edge Holmes likes to project to both client, suspect, and reader.
With respect to the plots of each of the stories, "The Case of a Boy's Honour" is especially thin, the outcome never in doubt, the case hardly worthy of Holmes's talents — nor the attention of Holmes's brother, Mycroft. "The Case of the Ghosts of Bly" seems overly familiar, drawing elements from a number of sources; the potential supernatural aspects of the story never ring true. "The Case of the Matinee Idol" is the most original of the three, and only one to present Holmes with a true puzzle to solve.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will certainly want to add Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly and other Adventures of the Great Detective to their collection; it is, for the most part, worthy of that. But it seems unlikely that new readers of these stories will be enticed to seek out the originals or previous volumes in the series by this author.
Acknowledgment: Pegasus Books provided an ARC of Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly: England
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Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly by Donald Thomas — A Sherlock Holmes Collection of Short Stories
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication Date: December 2010
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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