The Holmes canon beyond the ACD stories is wide and far ranging. In early 20th century Russia there was a growing appetite for stories containing the great detective. Back in those days, generations before the internet, stories would be written in English and then sent for translation to Russia. Then, some clever magazine editors hit upon the idea of having Holmes stories written by some Russian writers. Thus, the stories in this collection were born.
To be honest, the stories are rather stale and staid. The suspense, perhaps lost in translation, is conspicuous in its absence and some of the plot lines are clunky. There are undertones of the political and social struggles prevalent in Russia at the time and perhaps these overshadow the underlying purpose of fiction which is to entertain.
The book’s sleeve promises stories of Holmes’s time in Russia and how he battles the Russian Moriarty. It lies on the latter part. Indeed, this is a mish-mash collections of stories with no real cohesion and this is demonstrated most painfully in back to back stories in which Holmes meets an end not to dissimilar to Reichenbach not once but twice.
What Sherlock Holmes in Russia does remind us of is just how far reaching ACD’s creation’s popularity was at the turn of the century. George Piliev’s foreword gives us great insight into how the collection came about and is probably the best bit of the book.
This is a book for true, deep-seated aficionados of Holmes and Watson’s adventures. And it ain’t cheap either (£19 on Amazon and I paid $35 CDN for it).