Tales Of The Great Detectives: Sherlock Holmes In The City Of The Saved edited by Philip Purser-Hallard (book review).

November 3, 2014 | By | Reply More

For all the mysteries in the world, one Sherlock Holmes isn’t enough, so why not make as many as possible? In the world of the City of the Saved, the fictional detective is so loved that his every form whether from print, film, television or even cartoon has been faithfully recreated. The City of the Saved is a place where every person who has ever lived has been resurrected and continues to live their previous life, albeit in a strange version of their environment and was first seen in ‘Faction Paradox’ by Philip Purser-Hallard, who edits this collection and supplies two stories to top and tail it.


These eight stories each feature a different version of Sherlock Holmes and his faithful Watson, sometimes multiples of them. Although they all follow the continuity of the City of the Saved, they are not tied in with each other as they have been produced by different authors. Good luck with tying down the canon of these!

Setting the detective and, importantly in these stories, the John Watsons in this world gives us a fascinating glimpse into how creative the authors can be when considering how the different facets of Holmes and Watson react with each other and the environment.

Saqqaf by Philip Purser-Hallard

In which we consider the importance of the hive to Sherlock.

Young Sherlock Holmes And The Mansion Of Doom by Stephen Marley

When young Sherlock, still in prep school, is sent by his brother Mycroft to a mysterious mansion, he and Watson must use his ingenuity to discover the truth and avoid the zombies.

Eliminating The Impossible by Jess Faraday

Holmes and Watson entangle themselves with the Creator and no good can come of this. Conan Doyle resurrected to find he has both of his wives alive and can’t really grumble. He has done his best to avoid any of his remade creations but, on meeting Holmes, he sets off a chain of events that can only end badly.

The Case Of The Pipe Dream by Chantelle Messier

When John Watson, especially created to aid the great detective, is allocated a broken Holmes, he is in despair. This Holmes is a TV version who is able to quote his accompanying sponsor messages at will but appears to have no detecting skills. But when the pair investigate a real mystery, Watson discovers all is not as is appears. It really is at least a two pipe problem.

Art In The Blood by Kelly Hale

Watson deep into his gin and tonic bemoans his bad luck with women to another more settled Watson. His tale of woe involves a woman called Sorcha and his own Holmes who he has to carry around as a hologram due to Sherlock’s agoraphobia.

The Adventure Of The Piltdown Prelate by Andrew Hickey

This John Watson is somewhat disillusioned by the world he has been remade in. Even though he is pleased that his old friend Holmes has been so loved, thanks to his stories, Watson has retired from the Great Detective Agency. This is mostly to do with the disappointing Watsons who are often intellectually dim versions used in the wide variety of books, films and short stories produced through the millennia. However, with the disappearance of the creator Conan Doyle, he must join forces with another remake of Watson to solve the mystery.

The Baker Street Dozen by Elizabeth Evershed

John Watson is summoned from his surgery to return to head office from which all the remade Holmes and their allocated Watsons operate. The Acme Watson Facility produces all the standard Watson 221Bs for all new recruits. Something has gone seriously wrong and, today, there is no production. This Watson is disconcerted when he is teamed him with, of all things, an anime version of Holmes. They have to solve the mystery of the over produced Watson.

Sussex by Philip Purser-Hallard

Rounding off the collection, the very old Holmes is tending his bees and considering his demise.

I certainly enjoyed this collection of lively and often amusing stories which make you think and occasionally laugh out loud. Any fan of different versions of the Great Detective will certainly recognise the different traits and various obsessions by both authors and fans. I hadn’t heard of the City of the Saved before but it makes an innovative and amusing backdrop and, hopefully, more stories will be produced about the Holmes and Watsons. With the popularity of Sherlock Holmes continuing with no sign of diminishing, presumably these versions will also be reproduced one day in the City of the Saved.

Sue Davies

October 2014

(pub: Obverse Books. 185 page hardback. Price: Hardback £11.99 (UK). EBook £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-90903-123-4)

check out website: www.obversebooks.co.uk

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Category: Books, Steampunk

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