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The Mammoth Book of Sherlock Holmes Abroad
Ed Simon Clark

Robinson (Little, Brown)
2 April 2015 / ISBN-13: 9781472118820

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Although most of the stories Conan Doyle wrote about Holmes and Watson take place in foggy London or at least in the UK, some venture farther afield. Here is a compendium of fifteen new stories taking the characters to a wide range of other places, including some not entirely physical.

Africa, China, Egypt, Norway, France, Haiti…- Holmes both with and without Watson and plus various other characters delve into many strange and bizarre cases. As many people's favorite Conan Doyle story is The Hound of The Baskervilles, it is no surprise that several of the stories feature mysterious supernatural-seeming creatures with murderous intent. Then there is a mummy's curse, zombies and even people from the moon, as well as a spooky doll and a locked room. Holmes gets to work with (or at least meet) Jules Verne, Conan Doyle, Houdini, Ibsen and Poe, even meeting up with Sir Henry Baskerville on his African farm. Some authors choose to show a different aspect of Holmes than we see in the books, a more emotional side or at least a man in awe of somebody other than himself. As with all tales set in exotic locations, part of the enjoyment is in how well the author captures the ambience while giving us a good description of what the characters see. Alison Littlewood manages this admirably in her tale set in Morocco, while Johnny Mains'’rural Austria in winter gives chills in more than one way. Literary prowess is exhibited by Stephen Volk in his tale about Poe, Verne, men from the moon and a French asylum, although editing might have made it even better. The book's editor, Simon Clark, adds a fun, rather Boy's Own tale set in Mesopotamia with plenty of action, while Sam Stone gives us a case from a short period of Chinese history and Emperor Guangxu. Conan Doyle was famously quoted as saying "do what you like with him,"”and while some authors have chosen to write in a similar vein, others have made the character their own. An interesting and lively compendium of stories.

Reviewed 2015