It’s not often I read Sherlock Holmes anthologies. I tend, when purchasing pastiches, to look for more traditional novel/novella length efforts. Perhaps it because my original rapture with Holmes came from A Study In Scarlet and I have since always found I preferred the longer version of the Conan-Doyle canon.
But, nevertheless, with the editing team that produced Sherlock Holmes In America I felt I just had to get a copy. And, to be honest, I am bit non-plussed. It was OK. And, if anything a bit disappointing.
Some of the stories were pretty rudimentary and to my mind were too keen to big up the ‘In America’ part of the anthology’s theme rather than given us the kind of ripping yarns that this editing team should have been able to produce.
The Case of Colonel Crockett’s Violin was a case in point. The whole mystery revolved around the true identity of Davy Crockett’s violin. Which in the end could never be proven of course. It was an essay on American history with some Watson and Holmes dialogue thrown-in.
Now there were some quite excellent stories in this collection. But I found myself bored with others. Focusing on the positives, some of the efforts intertwine Holmes and American history extremely well, such as the one with Chief Sitting Bull and Annie Oakley. Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp make an enjoyable foray into the book too. But of the 14 stories, I would rate 50% of them are better than average which is not a good return.
Of course, doyens of America’s short but eventful past may enjoy the book more than I, indeed, I suspect they will. For me, Sherlock Holmes In America is not one of the Holmes pastiches I will force my long-suffering wife to read through. For all its glossy cover and presentation it just lacks substance consistently throughout. 5/10
* One last thing, Daniel Stashower has a story placed in the book, and I wince when I see the editor also including a story in the book they are charged with producing. That said, it is probably one of the best therein so perhaps I am being unkind.