I’ve been on a kick of discovering older books recently, and really enjoyed the classic Shadows Over Baker Street from 2003, edited by Michael Reeves and John Pelan. It’s a collection of short stories from a number of fantastic authors including Neil Gaiman and Billy Martin (writing at the time as Poppy Z Brite). The stories feature characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes universe, set in a world of HP Lovecraft’s monsters. The notoriously logical Holmes faces mysteries without rational explanation, tied to eldritch beings and their fanatical human worshippers.
The benefits of a short story collection are many. For one thing, the short form keeps the book readable and fast-paced; in this case there was still some feeling of repetitiveness by the end of the book, but it still held your interest as it moved through various vignettes. Because in this format, each story can take a different approach, timeframe, and set of characters, which lets the reader discover not only more of Lovecraft’s plots and characters but also more of Holmes’ cases and adventures. While many of the stories do rely on a Watson-and-Holmes-at-Baker-Street structure, a good number find Holmes in different places, with different narrators or helpers. In one case, Holmes doesn’t appear at all, and the story connects to him through Irene Adler (Tiger! Tiger! by Elizabeth Bear). The overall effect is of a somehow cozy journey into the terrifying and impossible adventures of yesteryear, like ghost stories told by the fire. If you like Sherlock Holmes, HP Lovecraft, or similar universes like Doctor Who, this is a great book to curl up with as the nights start to get colder and spookier.
However, if you’re looking for something slightly more recent but with the same vibe/premise, I’m planning to try 2019’s The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall, which is also a Sherlock Holmes retelling set in an alternative universe, with plenty of monsters and action, but with all of Alexis Hall’s charm, humor, and LGBTQIA diversity.
What’s YOUR favorite Sherlock Holmes read?