A Bedside Book of Early Sherlockian Parodies and Pastiches is more than just a book; it's a treasure trove that I'm delighted to add to my Sherlockian library.
Editor Charles Press has collected a generous 58 parodies and pastiches (using a broad definition of "pastiche") published during the lifetime of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Most are of pre-World War I vintage.
Although many of the stories are anonymous or carry such bylines as "A Donan Coyle" and "Sir Arthur Cannon Ball," quite a few famous authors are represented the the volume - Mark Twain, Kenneth Grahame, O.Henry, Brett Harte, James M. Barrie, and Ring Lardner among them.
A few of the stories are themselves famous, but most are not, which makes their appearance between book covers all the more welcome. Press calls them "the best of the less well known." In the introduction to individual tales, he often recognizes the Sherlockian who discovered the story and rescued it from obscurity.
As in all the best anthologies, Press provides a helpful introduction. In it, he traces the history of parodies and pastiches (starting an incredibly soon four months after A Study in Scarlet was published) and of anthologies of them, beginning with Ellery Queen's landmark Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Press warns that reading parodies and pastiches "is a little bit like eating chocolate candy, so tasty, but perhaps it's best not to gulp down to many at once." Maybe reading a few at a time before bed would be a good way to enjoy these stories, making this truly a bedside book.
A Bedside Book of Early Sherlockian Parodies and Pastiches is available from all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).