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Friday, April 19, 2013
The Perils of Loren D. Estleman
Loren D. Estleman has written almost 70 books, roughly divided between mysteries and westerns. But the best selling of them all is one his first, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, or The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count. A somewhat tired premise by now, the paring of the iconic detective and the iconic vampire was new in 1978. I reviewed it favorably then, and regard it fondly now.
Although best known in the mystery field for his hard-boiled detective novels, Estleman has returned to Holmes pastiche writing again and again over the years. In addition to Dr. Jekyl and Holmes, which he regards as a better novel than its predecessor, he has written seven short stories. They are collected in The Perils of Sherlock Holmes (2012), along with three essays and a playlet.
Estleman has fun with these pieces, most of which appeared elsewhere first, and readers will, too. In "The Adventure of the Coughing Dentist," he draws on his western knowledge to have Holmes save Doc Holliday at the request of Wyatt Earp. "The Adventure of the Three Ghosts" is a nice riff on A Christmas Carol. "The Riddle of the Golden Monkeys" involves a young Sax Rohmer and the criminal who inspired his most famous creation, Dr. Fu Manchu.
"Dr. and Mrs. Watson at Home: A Comedy in One Unnatural Act" is simply hilarious. Equally amusing in a different way is the essay that asks the tongue-in-cheek question, "Was Sherlock Holmes the Shadow?"
I loved "The Devil and Sherlock Holmes," perhaps because it's a mystery whose only logical solution is supernatural. But my favorite piece in the book is the essay, "On the Significance of Boswells." It's an updated version of an introduction to The Complete Sherlock Holmes, which I have lauded here previously. It's my second favorite introduction to Holmes, right behind Christopher Morley's classic.
This entertaining potpouri of stories and essays is worthy of your attention. What good books have you read lately?
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM