Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot!

Game is AfootIn this new edition of Baker Street Irregulars, a cast of authors riff on the iconic figure of Sherlock Holmes in over a dozen captivating new ways. The backdrops run the gamut from a grade school classroom to Jupiter, from rural, post-Civil War to an alien spaceship. While preserving the timeless charm and intrigue of Sherlock Holmes, these authors pen stories of the world’s greatest detective as you’ve never seen him before.

Here are the contents:

Introduction: My Old Friend Sherlock Holmes by Jonathan Maberry

The Problem of the Three Journals by Narelle M. Harris:  Sherlock is an Australian hipster

Six Red Dragons by Keith R.A. DeCandido: Sherlock is a young girl in modern New York City

The Adventure of the Diode Detective by Jody Lynn Nye: Sherlock is a home security system

Investigations Upon Taxonomy of Venemous Squamates by R. Rozakis: Sherlock is a graduate student at a lab

Papyrus by Sarah Stegall: Sherlock is a female librarian in ancient Egypt

My Dear Wa’ats by Hildy Silverman: Sherlock is an alien ship’s captain

A Scandal in Chelm by Daniel M. Kimmel: Sherlock is a rabbi

The Affair of the Green Crayon by Stephanie M. McPherson: Sherlock is a grade school teacher

A Study in Space by Derek Beebe: Sherlock is a teenager on a Moon station

Sin Eater and the Adventure of Ginger Mary by Gordon Linzner: Sherlock is a “sin eater” in rural post-Civil War

The Adventure of the Double Sized Final Issue by Mike Strauss: Sherlock is a comic book character

A Very Important Nobody by Chuck Regan: Sherlock is an investigator on one of Jupiter’s moons

Ho Ho Holmes by Nat Gertler: Sherlock is Santa Claus

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This anthology contains a number of stories that I felt were exceptionally strong, and a few that I desperately wish were much longer …

One of my favourites in the anthology was “The Adventure of the Diode Detective,” written by Jody Lynn Nye. In this story, Holmes and Watson are… wait for it… apps. Sure-Lock Homes is a security app. What’s-On? is a social app, combining ideas like Netflix, MeetUp, and Facebook into one place. When I read the premise to my husband, he raised an eyebrow and said “yeah, how is that going to work?” which was my thought as well- and yet it did. Not only was the entire thing witty and clever, it was also incredibly well-plotted. It was nicely paced, with a true arc to the story. My husband ended up reading over my shoulder, which (as a non-Holmesian) never happens. I loved this story. I thought the author did a magnificent job in capturing the personalities of Holmes and Watson as apps (they are, in case you are wondering, very AI-driven, which helps), showing how concerned they are for their owner and how far they’ll go to protect her. And of course, the ending is one that any Watsonian will love.

I also thoroughly enjoyed “Papyrus” by Sarah Stegell. In this story, which takes place in ancient Egypt, Holmes is Seshet, the Royal Librarian, and Watson is Raneb, who is a First Rank physician from the Black Land, on a mission to save his home from given to a different Temple. While I can’t comment on the accuracy of the setting (my gut says that historical details were fudged for the sake of adventure), it was an engaging story, with court politics and a nicely crafted mystery surrounding a land deed. I would love to see an entire novel, or even series, crafted from this short story, as Seshet and Raneb made an excellent team, with phenomenal chemistry. Raneb is instantly fascinated by Seshet, and dives into her world with only the slightest of hesitations. I want to see their partnership grow, and more of how a Holmes and Watson would navigate Egypt in the time of pharaohs.

I appreciated Hildy Silverman’s “My Dear Wa’ats” in which Holmes and Watson are aliens; She’er is the Captain of a spaceship, after having served in law enforcement, where their spouse, Wa’ats, still works. They meet again when Wa’ats boards She’er’s vessel, searching for the criminal Mori. The author manages to pack in a lot of worldbuilding in a very small story, but never did I feel like I was just being given an infodump on the world; instead, it felt organic, information flowing naturally as characters reflected on it. The conflict in this story is as much personal as it is about the crime, but the crime and, specifically, the criminal, is SO fascinating. There were some weak moments in this story, largely regarding gender role assumptions and some occasionally sloppy editing, but I would love to see an entire series set in this world, with She’er and Wa’ats.

My final favourite of the anthology was Gordon Linzner’s “Sin-Eater and the Adventure of Ginger Mary.” Darker in tone than many of the other stories, Linzner’s tale takes place in Appalachia, post-Civil War. Our Watson is Salali, a Native American woman (as a note: I have no knowledge on Linzner’s background, nor if this story was looked over by someone who is Native; I cannot speak on whether or not Salali and her husband Dagatoga are decent representation) while our Holmes is Cavish, the town outcast and, secretly, sin eater. The mystery revolves around the death of a child, originally presumed a suicide and discovered to be a murder. It is a mournful, haunting little story, one that manages to encompass a full investigation (excellently done) while also showing us the give-and-pull of Salali and Cavish’s odd, but deep, friendship.

Though these four stories were my favourites, there were certainly other ones that were well-written and others may prefer. Some notables include “A Very Important Nobody” by Chuck Regan (in which Holmes is named Theramin Joules!); “The Problem of Three Journals” by Narrelle M. Harris (in which Holmes and Watson are hipster baristas); and “The Affair of the Green Crayon” (in which Holmes and Watson teach elementary school).

Overall, I did not regret reading this anthology, something I cannot always say. There were certainly a few weaker stories, but I didn’t feel like any of them were bad, and none of them made me throw my Nook across the room in irritation. And some of these stories were so excellent that I secretly hope the authors fell in love with their premises so that they can expand the story into a full length novel.  – Elise Elliot, The John H. Watson Society

Sherlock Holmes has never been far from popular imagination. His evolution from being Arthur Conan Doyle’s most clever creation to becoming synonymous with Benedict Cumberbatch is testament to his, and his creator’s, everlasting impact. What makes Holmes, and by extension, the cast of Doyle’s series, so enduring is the rounded ways they are written — intelligent, witty, stubborn, loyal and compelling.

Whether your introduction to Sherlock Holmes was through the original books, or the many adaptations across the spectrum of media, there is no doubt that he has acted as the template for most of today’s TV detectives and inspired many more real ones. It is probably safe to say we have all, in some way or other, re-imagined this iconic figure in our daily lives.

As have Jonathan Maberry, a five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer and more, and Michael A. Ventrella, writer of many a humorous adventure novel. Together, they are the brains behind the latest Sherlock Holmes reimagining, an anthology of short stories riffing on the main theme, ‘What if Sherlock Holmes had been born in a different body? In a completely different time?’

The authors in this book range from veteran storytellers to newcomers. Sherlock Holmes, Doctor John Watson, Inspector Lestrade and the sinister James Moriarty are all featured in a variety of renditions, transported around the globe and through time. I received a copy of the title from Netgalley and, as is the case for most anthologies, some of the stories are spectacular, while others are overshadowed by their predecessors.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The authors of this anthology series have elevated imitation to art. Each author’s interpretation of this classic character adds a new dimension to what Sherlock Holmes is or can be. Every time Sherlock is a different gender, of a different race, in a separate profession and living in a different time, the character attracts a new audience and becomes a relevant and new idol to whole new diaspora. Though not consistently engaging and polished, Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot is the kind of unmissable series every Sherlock fan will enjoy. – Lestat de Lioncourt,

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