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A Study in SherlockA Study in Sherlock—edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger—brings together sixteen short stories inspired by Sherlock Holmes (or, as the front cover states, “the Holmes canon”).

Some of the entries were weak, such as Dana Stabenow’s “The Eyak Interpreter,” an unconvincing attempt at storytelling via a teenager’s blog entries, complete with underlined words to indicate hyperlinks. The narrative quickly shifts from the presumed style of an adolescent into that of a typical narrator—but by then I was completely turned off. Similarly, Colin Cotterill’s graphic story, “The Case of the Unwritten Short Story” (wink, wink) was unreadable in my paperback edition: small white script on a gray background.

But those were the exceptions. Most of the stories were playful re-imaginings of the Holmes legend: previously untold cases, further adventures, or invocations of Holmes-like detectives. One of my favorites was Thomas Perry‘s “Startling Events in the Electrified City,” in which Holmes and Watson witness President McKinley’s “assassination” in Buffalo, NY. Another clever tale, “A Spot of Detection,” by Jacqueline Winspear, imagines the crime author Raymond Chandler as a boy inspired by the Holmes stories into a brief foray into criminal investigation.

“The game’s afoot” is still a welcome phrase, even all these years after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original burst of creativity in 1887 (A Study in Scarlet).