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The Mammoth Book of The Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes
Denis O Smith

Running Press (Constable and Robinson)
31 July 2013 / ISBN 9780762452200
Historical Mystery

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


The game's afoot! Popular and acclaimed writer of Holmes stories Denis O Smith has had several of his tales and novellas published in a Mammoth collection. Wisely, Smith has chosen the period between Holmes' meeting up with Watson up until his date with the Reichenbach Falls to set his stories. These are, as the back cover says, stories of the sort loved by true fans”.

I've read a fair number of Holmes pastiches and these are among the best. Mr Smith does the longer length of story better than the shorter variety and some of the shorter efforts start well but do not achieve their full potential in the pages allotted to them. What he does manage to do expertly is something that many other writers miss, the sense of the bizarre that suffuses almost all the Conan Doyle stories. A man goes home only to find nobody there knows him, a weird old house hides a terrifying secret, a man on a train is not what he seems and a pool of water holds the clue to a murder. Then there is the very gothic tale of two children and a wicked uncle, missing papers and the secret of a tile bearing a smiling face. The tone of the narration is a good imitation of that in the original stories, and both protagonists are also close to their creator's intentions. I think my own favorite was The Adventure of the Richmond Recluse as it evokes that sense of terror in the face of the strange and unexpected that Conan Doyle managed so well. All together a very enjoyable collection and I hope not the last to appear.

Reviewed 2014