The nostalgic anthology Sherlock Holmes in America gives some of America’s best mystery writers a chance to imagine the famous sleuth at work across the pond. The 14 stories here are in chronological order, and are set in various regional pockets. The stylish and diffident Holmes crosses the Atlantic. His celebrity precedes him. As happens back home, his clients range from the obscure to the famous. Holmes retains his uncanny powers of deduction, and manages to solve tricky and dangerous interpersonal puzzles. The writers included here conjure Holmes and Watson without distortion, and thrust the ultra-civilized duo in conflict with purely American villains. The stories have local flavor and American upstart ruggedness. Graeme Malcolm narrates in a tone filled with irony and energetic wit.
Audie Award Winner, Short Stories/Collections, 2014
The world's greatest detective leaves his native shores and travels to the most dangerous land of all...America!
Just in time for Sherlock Holmes, the major motion picture starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law: the world’s greatest fictional detective and his famous sidekick Dr. Watson are on their first trip across the Atlantic as they solve crimes all over 19th-century America - from the bustling neighborhoods of New York, Boston, and D.C. to fog-shrouded San Francisco. The world’s best-loved British sleuth faces some of the most cunning criminals America has to offer and meets some of America’s most famous figures along the way.
This exciting new anthology features over a dozen original short stories by award-winning and prominent writers, each in the extraordinary tradition of Conan Doyle, and each with a unique American twist. Featuring new stories by:
©2009 Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg, and Daniel Stashower (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Audie Award Winner, Short Stories/Collections, 2014
AudioBook Fan Extraordinaire
Short stories by different writers, so you get different styles and characters. These are SO MUCH FUN. Sherlock and Wyatt Earp. Sherlock and Teddy Roosevelt. Don't tell me that the purists would wince. Let us have some fun with our favorite consulting detective and his trusty side kick. Love these stories.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
Get this one for your car journeys! My husband and I take a lot of short trips- say an hour or two each way. We're always happy to find something to listen to that holds our attention but is short enough that we don't have to keep driving in circles to finish before arrival.
Does that sound like faint praise? Well, it is. As anyone might expect, this selection of non-Doyle Holmes stories is a real mixed bag. Some of the stories are clever and involving; others not so much. But the advantage of the short story format is just that - none requires a major investment of time or attention.
So, if you enjoy the original Holmes canon and are looking for an entertaining way to pass the time and/or miles, this is a pretty sure pleaser.
Note: There are a number of non-fiction diversions, including some fairly lengthy author bios and two final essays on Doyle and his attitude to Americans and (rather strangely) to the Irish. Interesting, perhaps, but definitely not short stories.
Say something about yourself!
On the whole this is a far better than average collection of Sherlockian stories. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing how the different authors opted to bring Holmes to the States while respecting Conan Doyle's canon. The best tales here are excellent, most are good, and few are disappointments. The narration was fantastic - evocative and skilled with the various accents used, both British and American.
Lyndsay Faye's "The Case of Colonel Warburton's Madness" tackles one of the canonical unchronicled cases with great success, underscoring not only Holmes's impressive deductive abilities, but also Watson's inherent decency and empathy. It's a delight to have Watson relate an unsolved mystery from his days in San Francisco to help his friend battle crippling boredom. San Francisco's a compelling character here. Given how much I enjoyed Faye's DUST AND SHADOW, I'm unsurprised that I liked this so much.
In "Ghosts and the Machine," Lloyd Rose offers a fascinating glimpse into Mycroft's and Sherlock's younger years and relationship (from Mycroft's point of view, quite well done), as well as a poignant window into real-life characters from the history of the Spiritualist movement.
Steve Hockensmith's "Excerpts from an Unpublished Memoir Found in the Basement of the Home for Retired Actors" is a delight, both for the ridiculously self-important voice of its narrator and the its evocative descriptions of The Whelp (that is, a young Sherlock Holmes, "treading the boards" as a company player in the wilds of America). Great fun with lovely insights into a young but already recognizable Holmes.
Robert Pohle's "The Flowers of Utah" offers a "What if?" spin on some of the not-so-tied-up loose ends from "A Study in Scarlet," but it thinks it's cleverer than it is, and the payoff from the "infodump" doesn't justify abandoning the rest of the story as Pohle does. This fell rather flat for me, the first disappointment of a volume that's otherwise been excellent.
Loren D. Estleman's "The Adventure of the Coughing Dentist" has Holmes and Watson working with Wyatt Earp to prove Doc Holliday innocent of false charges of murder before he's lynched. The character voices are wonderful here, as is the portrait of the still young and growing friendship between Holmes and Watson.
Victoria Thompson in "The Minister's Missing Daughter" provides a mystery that's quite easily solved, but that's rather the point, as the community's and family's general assumptions about an exploited wallflower of a girl have blinded everyone from seeing the obvious truth about her fate. This is not a standout story, but it has its own quiet charm.
"The Case of Colonel Crockett's Violin" by Gillian Linscott is a story about Holmes and Watson in San Antonio determining which, among a field of several choices, is the authentic violin owned by Davy Crockett and rescued from the Alamo. A solid effort.
Bill Crider's "The Adventure of the White City" needed to be about twice as long as it is to do justice to its ambitious premise (mixing the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Wovoka, and the Ghost Dance). Although it felt rushed and very thin in patches, the main theme was more than worthy, and I appreciate the thought behind the not-quite-fully-realized story.
In "Recalled to Life," Paula Cohen offers a story from the Great Hiatus in which Holmes saves the career of a framed former New York detective. A very satisfying story and a compelling original character.
Daniel Stashower's "The Seven Walnuts" shows a Holmes-obsessed Harry Houdini and his brother employing the Great Detective's methods to solve a local mystery after Holmes's "death." Clever, but I missed Holmes and Watson.
Matthew Pearl's "The Adventure of the Boston Dromio" is a very satisfying and complex mystery showing Holmes at the height of his deductive powers as he helps Watson save the man who once saved Watson's life. Quite well done.
Carolyn Wheat's "The Case of the Royal Queens" is another good mystery, and it offers glimpses into both Holmes's past and his future life with bees. A solid and wryly told tale.
The May-December romance for Sherlock Holmes in Michael Breathnach's "The Song at Twilight" is a bit odd and not entirely convincing, but I do appreciate how the story fits into the canon of THE VALLEY OF FEAR and "His Last Bow," and how it underscores the manner in which sovereign, country, and his brother all manipulate the aging and supposedly retired Sherlock Holmes.
Michael Walsh's essay is somewhat suggestive, if not persuasive, although I don't see how its theme (of anti-Hibernian sentiment in the canon) fits that of this volume. Christopher Redmond's piece on Doyle's travels in the United States is more descriptive than analytical, but it adds useful context to the focus of the collection. It's lovely that this volume ends with Conan Doyle's own comments on "The Romance of America."
This anthology consists of short stories written by different authors in which Sherlock Holmes ventured to America, sometimes accompanied by Dr. Watson. About half of the stories has the feel of Doyle's style. The other half, while not bad stories, didn't characterize Holmes and Watson as expected. Some of the stories make reference to Holmes' other adventures (written by Doyle). It's helpful to be familiar with those before reading this book, such as "A Study in Scarlet," "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Speckled Band," and "The Final Problem."
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
When reviewing anything Sherlock Holmes, it's probably of benefit to know the reviewer's mindset in regards to a character with so many interpretations. I consider myself a Sherlockian, which is to say I am a bit of a purist who knows the original canon, though I readily acknowledge there are some who live and breathe this stuff far better than I. I believe placing the Great Detective in any time that's not his own defeats the entire point of what makes him work and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding on any writer who tries it. I believe having him face off against anything legitimately supernatural is fun from time to time as an exercise in fan fiction, but it goes against the very nature of who the character is supposed to be. And I can't even think about the stories from Laurie R. King without seeing red. I'm pleased beyond words that one of her tales didn't end up here.
For the dyed-in-the-wool Sherlockian like myself, this book is an interesting diversion in small doses, but it can't help but be a bit disappointing by its very nature. For those of moderate interest and/or for those who can readily accept the likes of Sherlock or Elementary on TV, this will probably be a far better collection to consider. I had fun with this set, but it's hard not to see the warts because I do know the originals so well. But I also acknowledge that there's beating the classic version, so I grade collections like this on a curve.
The nature of a short story collection is that writing styles will vary, and different authors will appeal to different readers. On the whole, the writers presented here largely understand and respect the original tales from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The problem with pastiche, however, is that sometimes writers will lean perhaps too heavily on the source material. You wouldn't think that'd be a problem, would you? Let me explain. Pastiche is, by any other name, fan fiction written reverentially in the style of the original. When it works, the elements of what makes the original tick are there on the surface, and the result is a satisfying read. But because the writer can't help but fall short of the mark simply because no one can think the way the original author does, it can sometimes seem empty or contrived. The more understanding one has for the Holmes canon, the more one can see where the limits of pastiche are.
Here, the limits are two-fold.
The first is the theme itself. As pointed out in the introduction, ACD had a respect for the American people and way of life, which he extended to his creation. There are Americans all through the original canon, up to and including Holmes' first case. The theme of bringing Holmes to the States is, therefore, a natural one. However, most of these stories lean heavily on the trope of letting Holmes meet the other famous personalities of the day. If you're predisposed to enjoying that sort of thing, this isn't a problem. I rather enjoy it too, but I always think back to the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons. When you're done laughing, bear with me, and this should make sense. The originals had the gang solving their own mysteries, then the later ones had them teaming up with the likes of the Harlem Globetrotters, Don Knotts, or Batman. The formula of the original is there, but something's fundamentally "off" about it all the same. Such can be directly applied here. And because many of the stories here do rely on this formula, the case itself plays second fiddle to the mash-up. Most of the stories here are hit and miss precisely because of this formula.
The second problem comes from those instances where the story will lean on one of the original cases, such as tying off loose ends from "A Study in Scarlet." Again, not a bad idea for fan fiction, but not exactly the sort of thing that pushes the idea of original storytelling. The limitation here is that readers not completely familiar with the classic canon will be lost, which can be easily corrected by simply enjoying the originals. Suggestion: Audible offers the complete set for one credit as The Heirloom Collection. If you don't have it, get it and revel in the awesomeness.
The good news is that since these are stories about America, we don't have to push through yet another pastiche of Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper. That was the entire appeal for me, to avoid that very setup. Seriously, there are more of these now than there are original Holmes stories. We get it. Change the record already.
What this collection does exhibit on the whole is an understanding of character, which is why most people read pastiches in the first place. By and large, Holmes and Watson are treated with respect. No collection will ever be perfect as interpretation will vary writer to writer and reader to reader, but it's hard to complain about the offerings here in that regard beyond a handful of eyebrow-raising moments that may or may not be noticed by anyone not steeped in those original tales.
Graeme Malcolm is a highly credible narrator. I still claim Simon Vance to be the go-to narrator for all things Sherlock Holmes (again, see The Heirloom Collection), but Malcolm's voice lends well for pastiche. He comes across a bit crusty at times, and it fits with the Victorian sensibility of what these authors are working to achieve. If anything, he's a high tide that raises all boats here.
An interesting pastiche of stories of Sherlock Holmes in the US. As a life long fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories I found these additions to be well worth reading. In fact I found many of them to be more interesting than some of those in the "Canon" and have no complaints about any of them that are actually Sherlock Holmes stories.
However two of the "stories" are, in fact, not Sherlock Holmes stories at all but are short articles written about Arthur Conan Doyle. One is a study of what the author says is the anti-Hibernian flavor of the stories. While he may (or may not) be right, it is certainly not a Sherlock Holmes story and I found the psychological analysis of Mr Doyle both annoying and a bit silly. A second is a description of Mr Doyle's tour through the US. It is hard for me to think of either of those as being Sherlock Holmes stories.
Still, those that are actual Sherlock Holmes stories are a lot of fun and, I think, worth the price if you like the Sherlock Holmes character.
As with most multi-author anthologies, this one is a jelly bean bag of stories. Some are worth savoring, others are bland and easily forgotten.
Actually, while listening I couldn't help but question the publishers decision to include a few of the stories. The authors didn't seem to much like Conan Doyle's Sherlock. It was as if they took the name and made an entirely new character that lacked any resemblance to Doyle's work. The worst offender was Carolyn Wheat's "The Case of the Royal Queens" - a silly story that almost completely ignored Doyle's character.
Of the stories written, I thought that Lindsay Faye's "The Case of Colonel Warburten's Madness" stood out as the most true to the original character. Not at all surprising as she did such a masterful job writing "Dust and Shadow"- she's done fabulous work getting into the minds of Watson and Holmes.
Another great story was Daniel Stashower's "The Seven Walnuts"- even without the direct interaction of the famous detective, Sherlock and Watson's presence is clearly felt. I was delighted by the creativity and humor shown by this author and wouldn't mind reading more from him.
In addition, Steve Hockensmith's "Excerpts from an Unpublished Memoire Found in the Basement of the Home for Retired Actors" also hit a perfect note, incorporating humor and Holmes' special talents to make a greatly entertaining read.
If the stories didn't have so many annoying introductions, the authors weren't so in love with their long descriptions and extensive vocabularies, if the stories were remotely interesting, then it might be worth the listening.
disappointment and boredom
I have heard quite a few interesting Sherlock Holmes stories, these were not among them!
Frankly, I couldn't get halfway through the book. I may have missed a good story in the end, but didn't think it worth the trouble to find out. THAT is pretty bad. I am not usually so critical.
I don't often find myself laughing out loud when I walk around with my headphones and listen to a book, but several of these stories made me do just that. And they do in a good way, showing a lot of insight into, and love of, the Conan Doyle universe.
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