Baker Street Irregulars

91vpPELXg-L (2)What if Sherlock Holmes was born in a different body in a different time and place? In this new series, New York Times Bestselling Author Jonathan Maberry and I invite others to speculate as to what that might be.

Here are the  stories contained within:

“’Locked” by Mike Strauss: Sherlock is the host of a reality show

“Identity” by Keith R. A. DeCandido: Sherlock is a young girl in modern New York City

“The Scent of Truth” by Jody Lynn Nye: Sherlock is a doglike alien

“The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective” by Ryk Spoor: Sherlock is not what he thinks he is

“A Scandal in the Bloodline” by Hildy Silverman: Sherlock is a vampire

“The Fabulous Marble” by David Gerrold: Sherlock is a bio-synthed, augmented, 7 percent human, upgraded, unmortal, consulting extrapoloid

“The Scarlet Study” by Jim Avelli: Sherlock is a worker in a dystopian world

“Delta Phi” by Heidi McLaughlin: Sherlock is an eighteen-year-old female college student

“Beethoven’s Baton” by Austin Farmer: Sherlock is a musician in Beethoven’s orchestra

“The Adventure of the Melted Saint” by Gail Z. Martin: Sherlock is a transgender detective in Charleston

“Automatic Sherlock” by Martin Rose: Sherlock is an automaton in a near-future Russia

“The Hammer of God” by Jonathan Maberry: Sherlock is a nun who works as a field investigator for the Office of Miracles

“Code Cracker” by Beth W. Patterson: Sherlock is a parrot

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“Baker Street Irregulars is a collection of stories about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his universe. But these are not your typical Sherlock stories; they have the genius hero in all guises and forms. In one he is a parrot, another he’s an automaton. There’s Sherlock as a reality TV show host, and a dog from outer space. And there’s many more to offer in this anthology edited by Michael A. Ventrella and Jonathan Maberry.

I’m going to highlight just a few of the fantastic stories contained within, but I highly recommend grabbing a copy for yourself for a fun evening along with Sherlock and Watson.

In “Identity” by Keith R. A. DeCandido, Sherlock is a young lady, Shirley Holmes, whose aunt is looking for a companion to be with her as her parents are gone. Watson is a medical doctor in training who had previously served in Afghanistan. He’s looking for a cheap housing situation when Holmes’s aunt enters the picture offering free room and board in a swanky Manhattan townhouse in exchange for looking after Shirley.

This one was a favorite.

“The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective” by Ryk Spoor is a very, very interesting entry. Written in the vein of the classic Sherlock tales, this is one of the longer entries. I really enjoyed the ambiance and setting, along with the classic relationship between Sherlock and Watson. It is a tale of ghosts and the supernatural, which instantly makes it one to grab my attention. The supernatural shakes Sherlock up when he cannot disprove it.

This is the ultimate mystery for Sherlock.

“A Scandal in the Bloodline” by Hildy Silverman is a really fun story! Sherlock is a vampire, and Watson is a werewolf. Does it get any better than that? When Sherlock is visited by his maker, he and Watson must help her find her husband, the originator of their bloodline, who has been kidnapped and is in danger. If he dies, so would Sherlock and the others in his bloodline. The stakes are high (oh the puns).

I loved the supernatural element and the lighthearted feel to this one.

“The Scarlet Study” by Jim Avelli reminded me of the current Sherlock TV show, except it’s set in a dystopian landscape. Also, the old movie They Live is brought to mind by way of a parallel plot, as the population is being controlled by big pharma through mind-altering chemicals. Everyone is required to take meds that are catered to their positions. These drugs are not questioned, except for by a few conspiracy theorists such as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft.

Wow, author and editor Jonathan Maberry wrote a wonderful story with “The Hammer of God.” He did not use Sherlock in the more conventional way, like many of the other stories. Instead, the main characters are two nuns, Mother Frey and Sister Miri. They are a part of the Office of Miracles. Mother Frey, the elder of the two, is teaching Miri her ways in the art of deduction to solve what mysteries other agencies cannot. I couldn’t help noticing the X-Files-vibe to their work in that they are not trying to prove miracles, but instead disprove them—much like Scully was tasked to do in the beginning of the show.

I really enjoyed this collection. Diverse and super creative, they all bring a new spin on the classic Sherlock universe. Fans might like this break from the norm and fresh take on the old.” – Amber Keller, (read full review here)

“When has Sherlock Holmes changed so much that he’s no longer Sherlock Holmes? In this aptly titled collection, 13 new adventures of Holmes and Watson, more or less, push the envelope far beyond Baker Street.

Not surprisingly, fantasy mavens Ventrella and Maberry (who alone published Kill Switch, 2016, etc.) have one and a half eyes out for outlandish, often futuristic incarnations of Holmes, and so do their contributors. Jody Lynn Nye’s Holmes is a doglike alien “a bit addicted to shag”—carpet, that is. Jim Avelli posits a dystopian world in which Holmes is arrested for shooting his ex-wife, Irene Adler. Martin Rose presents a robotic Holmes, a failure as a medical surgeon, who gets a new lease on nonlife as a nosy detective. Editor Maberry’s reimagining of Holmes as Mother Frey, who investigates miracles for the church, drives perhaps the deepest into fantasy territory. Meanwhile, back in the past, Austin Farmer puts Holmes and Watson to work as violinists in Beethoven’s orchestra. In the present, Gail Z. Markus reinvents Sherlock as Shelley Holmes, a transgender Charleston sleuth who works for store credit at an antiques shop; Hildy Silverman reveals that Holmes and Watson (and Irene and Godfrey Norton) are vampires; Heidi McLaughlin makes Holmes an insecure college coed whose first case leads to her first kiss; Mike Struss imagines Holmes as a particularly annoying reality show host; and Ryk Spoor dramatizes Holmes and Watson’s painful awakening to their status as fictional characters. In the three most successful stories, Beth W. Patterson makes Holmes an unusually reflective parrot, David Gerrold festoons his cyber-Holmes and -Watson with some hilarious acronyms, and Keith R.A. DeCandido scores with a surprisingly faithful update of one of Conan Doyle’s most treasured tales.

Less notable as independent creations than as provocations to think about Holmes and the Sacred Canon in innovative ways bound to lead to next year’s anthologies.” – Kirkus Reviews

These new tales are each “irregular” in some way. Instead of adding to the Holmes corpus, they reboot it, locating it in new genres (particularly science fiction and horror), and new settings (a reality TV show set!) and new contexts (the world’s most extended, and funniest, parrot joke.) The resulting cache of cases will delight fans of the Sherlock Holmes universe by turning it into a multiverse. There’s something here for everyone, probably whether or not one is already a Baker Street fan.

The collection gets off to an exciting start with Mike Strauss’s “Locked,” in which Sherlock is a reality-show host, using his deductive talent to solve the problems of lucky members of the television audience–or so it seems. Actually, something much more disturbing is going on, which reveals a great deal about the porous boundaries between reality television scripting, and, well, reality. As Strauss demonstrates, there’s actually something worse than “reality” presidency: “reality” crime-solving.

In several stories, the Sherlock character is a woman, be she “Shirley Holmes,” of New York City (Keith DiCandido’s “Identity”) or “Lock Holmes” (Heidi McLaughlin’s “Delta Phi”). The latter story is one of the book’s best and most memorable. Lock, a college freshman, is engaged by her rather absent-minded professor to crack a particularly tough case of exam-cheating by frat boys. Surprises abound, including that not all frat boys are incapable of deduction. This story is simultaneously one of the simplest and most human of the bunch, but also has the least guessable denouement.

For purists, Ryk Spoor’s “The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective” actually takes place in 1889, in the mahogany-leather-and-smoke den in Baker Street, and is narrated by the physician John Watson. A secretive lady makes an appearance, and Holmes indulges in violin improvisation and cocaine. The verbal styles sounds very Doyle, and Watson has been passing his stories to “Mr. Doyle.” (His knighthood came only in 1902, for his propaganda during the Boer War in South Africa. He had written, among other things partial to the British cause, that Britain’s “concentration camps” – the actual word – were in fact humanitarian refugee camps.) If this fact about Holmes’s life is a paradigm shift, it is only slightly more so than the ending of Spoor’s tale.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a nineteenth-century fiction classic in possession of a good fan base, must be in want of a vampire variation, so Hildy Silverman provides one, titled “A Scandal in the Bloodline.” This humorous take on the aforementioned literary trend is a bit derivative. Must Vampire Holmes have a werewolf Watson, who’s a bit nebbishy, like Russell Tovey? However, the conceit adds a needed bit of humor after several dark or uncanny contributions, and allows Silverman to explore how a Victorian (-born, anyway), Holmes, Watson, and Irene Norton (nee Adler) would fare in the twenty-first century.

At the risk of sacrilege, this review would venture to say that some of Baker Street Irregulars’ modernizations of the Holmes-Watson premise are much better than its currently most popular update, the BBC television series Sherlock. Most of them make more sense than Sherlock, anyway. And we all know that in the world of Sherlock Holmes, after things make mayhem, they must make sense. Unlike, say, reality. – Rebecca Nesvet, (read full review here)

“Sherlock Holmes as a college girl or a transgender female? How about a robot? Modern day or in the past? The range of depictions in this anthology is wide, but in all cases, the characters are recognizable, true to the theme, and very well written. I’d recommend this book for fans of traditional Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries, for fans of sci-fi/fantasy, and especially for fans of both! I still have two stories to read and don’t want the book to end.” – V. Hartman DiSanto

“What a lot of fun! If you love Sherlock Holmes, this is a must for your collection. SF/F/H’s finest writers pay tribute to the everlasting detective and the eternal spirit of inquiry and analysis wherever he may be found — New York, LA, the distant future, a revisioned past. Although a bit uneven, given the variety of authors and tales, every one of them presents an infuriating, arrogant, self-absorbed, and — quite naturally — brilliant Sherlock. We’d know him anywhere! – Ef Deal

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