Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Few Further Words About Upcoming Publications

In which Nick shares further news about his soon-to-be-published pastiche.


Hello, Internet! As I mentioned last time, I was going to keep things purposefully vague about my soon-to-be-published Sherlockian short story. However, I am excited to announce that we are today exactly one month away from publication of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories: Volume VI. And, as a result, I thought I would drop some hints and (hopefully) whet your appetites for this great collection.

My story is one of 35 - making this volume the largest in the MX series so far, and the whole book comes in somewhere near 700 pages in length! As for my entry in the anthology, it is entitled “The Adventure of the Traveling Corpse.” Set in 1890, Holmes and Watson are consulted by an old woman who has come to Baker Street in a frantic state. A stranger to the city, the woman disembarked her train and, getting lost very quickly, stumbled upon a most horrifying sight: two figures in the dark carrying a dead body into a hansom cab. Of course, the Great Detective’s interest is piqued and he begins a investigation which quickly becomes more complex than he could have anticipated.

I have never had to write an official pitch for a story before so I hope that that was satisfactory in enticing you. As I have mentioned before, it was a true honor to be included in this collection. And, I am excited to announce that another one of my stories is slated to be released in Volume VII which you can expect to be released this fall. I am also working on stories for Volumes VIII and IX. But, all of that is discussion for another time. Until then…

...The Game is Still Afoot Back on Baker Street

Monday, January 30, 2017

"The Biggest Thing for Years" (HOUN)

In which Nick shares some very exciting news!


Hello Internet! Long time no see! Not unlike the great detective, Cat and I have been on something of a Great Hiatus when it comes to this blog. Rest assured, we have not given up (far from it) but life, and work, and a whole assortment of other things have continued to get in the way. However, I am stepping out of the shadows for a moment to share some very exciting news.

In case you didn’t know, MX Publishing, a fantastic independent publishing company based in London, specializes in Sherlock Holmes books. Since October of 2015, they have undertaken a truly massive project publishing the largest collection of new, traditional Sherlock Holmes stories. The anthologies, all edited by David Marcum, number five at the time of this writing with a sixth to be released in May. The exciting news is that a story which I wrote will be included in the upcoming sixth volume.

This will be my first Sherlockian pastiche in print, and I cannot be more excited. I am honored to be included in this volume of 35 stories written by some of the finest Sherlockian writers of the day. I’m going to keep details about my story purposefully vague for the time-being, but I’ll drop some hints as we near the release date.

Though the book’s  release date is May 22 - Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday - you can receive your copy early by backing the project on Kickstarter. The link I have included below. By backing the project, you are helping to contribute to the Undershaw Preservation Trust, helping to support Doyle’s home, Undershaw, which has been converted into the Stepping Stones school for children with learning difficulties.

Again, I am absolutely thrilled to be involved with such a fantastic project and I feel privileged to be included in such a great anthology. Of course, as I get more information, I will keep everyone up-to-date.

In the meantime, I would like to assure our readers that we will return someday - my impassioned tirades for Peter Cushing must be heard. And I would just like to take a minute to thank everyone who has continued to follow us on Twitter and read our posts. We really do appreciate all of your support. Until next time…

The Game is Still Afoot Back on Baker Street

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Back on Baker Street Book Review: A Study in Terror

In which Nick reviews a pastiche which was seemingly lost to the sands of time. Should it have stayed there?


Ellery Queen is arguably one of the most famous names in detective fiction. The name - the nom de plume of cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee - was also the name of their detective hero, himself a mystery writer. Queen - whose father in the stories is a NYPD officer - would solve an array of bizarre cases working alongside his Dad and other figures more often than not in the New York City region. By the mid-1960s, Dannay and Lee had begun to incorporate other ghostwriters into their team, including author Paul W. Fairman who wrote the sections of this novel which feature the great detective.

The novelization of the 1965 film A Study in Terror tells two stories at once. While suffering a crippling case of writer’s block, Ellery is visited by a friend who has wound up with a copy of a long-lost manuscript written by Dr. John H. Watson which chronicled Sherlock Holmes’ investigations into the Jack the Ripper murders. The manuscript details how - at the height of the Ripper’s reign of terror - Holmes receives in the post a surgeon’s medical kit; the postmortem knife missing. Divining some connection between the case and the killings, Holmes and Watson set off to investigate. As Ellery reads the manuscript, he endeavors to find out how the document ended up entrusted to him and what relevance it has eighty-odd years after the killings occurred…

What surprised me most about The Study in Terror is just how closely the plot followed the film. It is difficult to discuss that 1965 Holmes vs. Ripper film as it has not been formally reviewed on this blog, but its best central elements are all retained in the novelization which is welcome. As the story is told entirely from the perspective of Dr. Watson, this pastiche feels very real. At times, the Watsonian voice (very nicely captured by writer Fairman) goes a long way to making some of the more wild sequences more palatable. This method of presentation did end up restructuring a large portion of the story and omitting large chunks of the film’s original plot as well.

The cast of characters in the Holmesian sections are also rather diminished. It is actually easy to count on one hand the number of central characters in this story (including Holmes and Watson). The Ripper’s victims (who had a rather decent amount of screen time in the movie) are barely presented in the book’s pages and Inspector Lestrade’s involvement in the case is reduced to a mere cameo appearance.

The non-Holmesian sections are short and to-the-point; though Ellery’s snarky sense of humor is displayed fully herein and some of the descriptions of his writer’s block are genuinely amusing (especially to a writer such as myself). They are marginal however, and only really add anything to the plot come the finale when Ellery contests the identity of the Ripper which the manuscripts presents. While this is certainly a neat twist, the presentation with which this is done does leave something to be desired and one feels almost as though it was included simply for the sake of a twist ending.

Sherlock Holmes (John Neville) learns a surprising truth
from Dr. Murray (Anthony Quayle) in 1965's A Study in Terror

It should also be noted that while A Study in Terror is hardly the most historically accurate representation of the Jack the Ripper murders, it at times looks like a docudrama when compared to the novelization. While it will certainly not bother a casual reader, amateur (or seasoned) Ripperologists beware that the historical accuracy of this book is severely lacking.

While it would be hard to call A Study in Terror one of the cornerstones of the subgenre that is Sherlockian pastiche, it is an interesting take on the well-worn Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper story which has become something of a trope in the aforementioned subgenre. It’s certainly a curious book to be sure, but it would be cruel to Holmes fans if this book remained out of print like so much of Ellery Queen’s work.

Positives: Depiction of Holmes and Watson, fidelity to the source material, general sense of humor

Negatives: Rushed execution and twist ending, historical inaccuracies

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 deerstalkers