Alt. Sherlock Holmes: New Visions Of The Great Detective by Gini Kock, Glen Mehn and Jamie Wyman (book review).

May 13, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Alt. Sherlock: New Visions Of The Great Detective’ offers up three authors have obviously spent not a little time immersed in the muse of Sherlock. For a fictional dude he/she sure does get around. Each author prefaces their longer work or works with a short story and these have all appeared in ‘Two Hundred And Twenty-One Baker Street’, also edited by David Thomas Moore. Whilst the short story offers a tantalising glimpse and in the parlance of the street ‘a quick fix’ of Nu-Sherlock, the novella explores the world a little deeper and shows us whether the conceit can be sustained. As the father of forensic and indeed quite out-there detecting, we see his footprint and that of Arthur Conan Doyle in our modern after and we take a cast of it for evidence.


Let us look at the possible proof that the detective is alive and well and living in all these place. If time is a pool boy, this is a deep one. First, Jamie Wyman’s short story is ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’, which tells us how this Watson ends up in with this Holmes in a carnival around the time of the Depression in America. It also introduces a story arc that continues with a series of deaths which show the hands of a person likely to be Moriarty.

With the novella ‘The Case Of The Tattooed Bride’, we get deeper into the carnival environment. Crash or Sanford Haus is the owner of a performer of feats of clairvoyance at the carnival. Dandy or Jim Walker is a Pinkerton agent, late of the Great War and an amputee. Mrs. Hudson is a beautiful woman of greatly limited stature who has taken a shine to Dandy. His main worry is that his being black is a full stop on their potential relationship. Meanwhile, around them, there is a mystery building that only Haus can solve. There is plenty of description in this opened out piece which gives a real sense of the atmosphere of the carnival and of the attitudes of the times.

Moving ahead to modern times, we reach the moment, about now, when we have the ability to concentrate for about a millisecond before being distracted by the need to tweet about the latest reality show. We meet another Doctor Watson, who gets together with Holmes after the events of ‘All The Single Girls’ by Gini Koch. Though the Doc is bona fide male and with the college girl fans to prove this, Holmes is a sleek grey-eyed woman who is considered handsome but not beautiful. It must be the nose. She cat-burgles her way into the life of Watson uncovering a plot following a series of campus murders.

Their partnership continues in ‘A Study In Starlets’. Visited by ‘the woman’ Irene Adler, Watson is already a little bit in love and Holmes knows she is lying about a theft of expensive jewellery. Drawn to the film set of a scripted reality show, Holmes and Watson begin their investigation but the result is murder and more work for the cleaners. This is a fun story with the change of sex refreshing if not exactly ground breaking these days. The scripted reality show is an integral part of our culture. A murder or two is something they have probably considered.

‘Half There/All There’ by Glen Mehn sees a gay Watson meeting Holmes at one of the endless Andy Warhol parties at The Factory in 1967. Home to art and eroticism, Watson is captivated by Holmes even though we can feel the doomed nature of it. Here Watson’s background is doctoring in the hell of Vietnam and a habit for chemicals that he shares with Holmes and dispenses to his ‘patients’.

Cleverly, this continues to be used in the extension of the story in ‘The Power Of Media’, following a similar plot but much more detailed. There is a sense of loss at the end of this. Knowledge that Holmes is for the world and Watson must be simply the sidekick in the world’s eyes is bittersweet. His little revenge is to recreate Holmes in his idealised image as he becomes the author of their adventures. This is America at one of its darkest time with conspiracy on every corner and anti-war protesters burning the flag. It is a time of civil rights and uncivil wrongs. There are some nice touches in this including the use for their rooms of an actual baker’s. Who wouldn’t want to live above a bun shop?

Overall, this is a nice collection as the short stories proved to be a good intro into the more extended novellas. Of course, they lend themselves to more stories and I’m looking forward to them.

Sue Davies

May 2016

(pub: Abbadon Books. 320 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-423-6)

check out website: www.abaddonbooks.com/

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Category: Books, Steampunk

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