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Friday, November 4, 2011

Twice Named Tales

If you acquire a lot of books about Sherlock Holmes, sooner or later you will have fun (and confusion) about titles.

For Christmas of 2009, my friend Steve Winter gave me two pastiches by L. Frank James. A Study in Truth was published in 2005 by Singing Tree Pres. An Opened Grave was published in 2006 by The Salt Works. Both are paperbacks. Judging two books by their covers, you might guess the newer book to be a sequel to the older. In truth, they are the same novel.

My library contains several examples of books being renamed, often at the time of paperback publication.

Edward Aubrey's 1980 novel Sherlock Holmes in Dallas, in which the Master investigates the Kennedy assassination, went into paperback a few years later as The Case of the Murdered President.

In an interesting reversal of that hardcover-to-paperback pattern, I have both The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures in paperback and a later edition in hardback called simply New Sherlock Holmes Adventures. The book was edited by Mike Ashley.

Obviously, that was only a small change in title. Similarly, The Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana by Jack Tracy was altered only slightly to become The Ultimate Sherlock Holmes Encyclopedia.

The opposite of two titles for one book is two books with one title, which can also confuse an acquirer of books. Almost two decades after Tracy's landmark work, Matthew E. Bunsun produced another Encylopedia Sherlockiana.

And don't confuse The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by Sebastian Wolfe in 1989, a fine collection, with the famous Ellery Queen book of the same name.

Have you ever been confused by book titles?


  1. I think there's two totally different series of Strand/Victorian readers called 'The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes'. I have the Allen K. Russell (on Castle) edited volumes but Hugh Greene (brother of Graham) also edited a series.

    Jon Lellenberg's recent 'Baker Street Irregular' gets confused with at least one or two other novels from decades past with the same title.

  2. Good catch, Matt! I own both of the "Rivals" books (resting comfortably next to each other on the top shelf), but I forgot about them when I wrote the post. I wonder what other book pairs are lurking in my library?