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The Sign of Seven
Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

by Martin Rosenstock (Editor), Stuart Douglas, James Lovegrove, David Stuart Davies, Derrick Belanger,

Titan Books
9 July 2019/ ISBN 9781785659034

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde 


Holmes and Watson solve seven different cases in this compendium of new novellas. The murder of a mudlark has the intrepid pair splashing through London’s sewers, they attend a séance, visit Florida to investigate a cult, solve the murders of several peers who have gone mad, an Egyptologist’s butler and a tobacco dealer and help out Lestrade in a personal matter. All in just over 500 pages!

Sherlock’s original cases featured mostly in short stories so are well suited to shorter fiction. Most readers of this book will be familiar with foggy Victorian London and know about the characters so little explanation is required, meaning the writer can concentrate on the story. But as the introduction says why not combine the pace and momentum of a short story with the complexities of a novel and try for something in between? The novella length is an ideal one and all seven writers have come up with a good yarn. Six tell their tales in the usual way with Watson narrating; the seventh and last story has Lestrade as narrator through the words of his diary. For me this works less well and the result is rather long winded with little excitement and a Holmes who is rather different to the one Watson describes. This is an interesting idea as we all know that one person’s description of somebody can vary greatly from another’s and from the reality. If I have to pick a favorite it would be Andrew Lane’s exciting and colorful story about peers going mad, a dark carnival and a strange menu. This would make a wonderful film! Contemporary themes feature in several stories too, from a certain American cult’s similarities to a real one from recent times, to the role of women in society from battered wife to a cult where the sexes are equal. Other characters from the canon make appearances too: Lestrade, Langdale Pike, the Baker Street Irregulars and Stanley Hopkins. I look forward to reading more from all these authors and recommend this compilation to all Holmes fans.

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2019