The first time I met Steven Doyle, at the Gillette to Brett III conference in Bloomington, IN, in 2011, he said something like, “You may not remember that I published your short story.”
How could I forget? “The Peculiar Persecution of JohnVincent Harden” was my first published work of fiction, appearing in Steve’s late lamented Sherlock Holmes Review in 1990. Since then – in fact, just since 2011 – I’ve been fortunate enough to have nine mystery novels published. I don’t consider them pastiches, although Holmes does appear in three of them.
I thought of my start recently when I acquired a copy of The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by the late Michael Dibdin at a library book sale. I have two other copies of the book, which I reviewed for a newspaper upon its publication in 1978. The pastiche was Dibdin’s first book. He went on to write 15 more mystery novels, most of them about Italian detective Aurelio Zen.
Also in 1978, Loren D. Estleman wrote The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count, also known as Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula. It wasn’t his first book, but for many years it was his best-selling one. He has since tapped out more than eighty mystery and western novels on a manual typewriter, with several series heroes.
More recently (2009) the amazing Lyndsey Faye’s debut novel, Dust and Shadow, was one of the best pastiches to tackle the Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper trope. She went on to write the gripping Timothy Wilde trilogy set in 1840. Whatever she does next, it will be great.
Sherlock Holmes is a wonderful for vehicle for a new writer, perhaps especially now when there is a great appetite for all manner of new adventures of the great detective. But no one should stop there. Give the world your own Great Detective.