This is the time of year when literati are apt to compile lists of the best books of 2017. But that’s not what this blog post is about. I don’t read enough new books to do that.
What I can do is introduce you to a few books I have read that you or the Sherlockians on your Christmas list might enjoy. Full disclosure: They are all from MX Publishing, which publishes Queen CityCorpse and all my other Sebastian McCabe – Jeff Cody mysteries.
Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen, by Wendy Heyman-Marsaw, edited by JoAnn and Mark Alberstat, is adapted from a series of columns in the journal Canadian Holmes. In addition to presenting recipes that might well have been served at 221B Baker Street, Mrs. Hudson offers a storehouse of information about the history, culture (high tea vs. cream tea), and attire of the Victorian era. Some good scholarship is on display here! The advertisements from the period that illustrate the book are also highly informative, and the recipe index at the end is helpful. This one is staying on the shelves in my office for easy reference.
The Case of the Swan in the Fog by A.S. Croyle is the third in the author’s “Before Watson” series, in which Holmes is assisted by another Boswell who is also a doctor – Dr. Poppy Stamford. Poppy is the sister of the Holmes’s friend who eventually introduced him to Watson. The mystery is firmly set in historical circumstances, with a killer fog and Victorian social conditions playing key roles. The relationship between Holmes and Poppy is not a romantic one, and yet Holmes at one point steps out of his role as a thinking machine to protect her heart.
Mycroft Holmes and the Adventure of the DesertWind, by Janina Woods, is an adventure indeed – more a thriller than a mystery. It involves magic, cultists, a Moriarty made mad by surviving the Reichenbach fall, and a love triangle involving the Holmes brothers and a character in the Canon who isn’t who we thought he was. In fact, he isn’t a he, according to this hitherto unpublished memoir by Mycroft Holmes. Needless to say, author Woods takes more than a few liberties with the Sacred Writings. But it’s quite a romp.
Imagination Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes, edited by David Marcum, is a clear choice for anybody who appreciates the art of radio drama as much as I do. Imagination Theatre broadcast 128 original Sherlock Holmes episodes under the title of “The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Sixteen writers contributed, and each is represented in this volume by a script from the series. As in any anthology, there is quite a lot of variety of approach here. But none of the plays stray too far from the Canon, not do they overwork the familiar.