When I was twelve years old (more than five and a half decades ago), I joyfully read every one of the original Sherlock Holmes novels and stories by Conan Doyle. Since that time, I have reread about half of them and have read over two hundred Holmes parodies and pastiches written by others. At present, there are over a dozen anthologies of Holmes pastiches available, and I am sorry to report that MURDER IN BAKER STREET: NEW TALES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, edited by Greenberg, Lellenberg, and Stashower, is one of the most disappointing of these. Despite the fine mysteries that some of its authors have published elsewhere, only one of this book's eleven stories receives a letter grade of "A" from me, two get a "B," three a "C," two a "D," and each of the remaining three earns a solid "F".
Placed after the works of fiction, this book contains autobiographical material from Conan Doyle's MEMORIES AND ADVENTURES (1924), titled "Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes," as well as a pair of critical essays: "100 Years of Sherlock Holmes" by Lloyd Rose, a theater critic, and "And Now, a Word from Arthur Conan Doyle" by Jon L. Lellenberg, one of the editors. For different reasons, I found each of these worth reading; other fans of Holmes and Watson may prefer to skip them.
As I said in a review of another Holmes anthology, while a parody tries to amuse readers with humorous mockery and succeeds by being deliberately excessive or deliberately defective in one or more of its elements, a pastiche aims to please readers by replicating the chief effects of some enjoyable original work by closely mimicking all or most of its original elements. A successful Holmes pastiche typically must contain (1) an interesting and reasonably plausible problem or puzzle, which is solved in an interesting and reasonably plausible manner by Holmes, (2) characters that are interesting and plausible in the ways they speak and act, especially when they are the original ones invented and used by Conan Doyle, (3) a narrative style that closely approximates the vocabulary and sentence structures of Conan Doyle's stories, (4) settings that are historically and geographically accurate, and (5) an attention to details so that no errors of grammar, word usage, or fact exist that are not easily blamed on Doctor Watson's ineptness. As for the specific discussions that follow, I have avoided giving away any author's plot details or secrets (even stupid ones), and I have not attempted to mention all of the good or bad features of any of the stories.
Of the eleven pastiches in this anthology, one struck me as very good: "The Adventure of the Cheshire Cheese" by Jon L. Breen, which has a rather clever puzzle in it involving a sonnet written by a dying man. Only two others deserved to be rated as good, having few shortcomings with respect to the criteria listed above: "The Man from Capetown" by Stuart M. Kaminsky contains a good puzzle but recycles a plot gimmick that Edward Hoch used about 14 years earlier in "The Return of the Speckled Band," while "The Case of the Vampire's Mark" by Bill Crider has a good premise involving Bram Stoker and an effective style but contains a weak, easily solved puzzle.
Three pastiches seemed to be just "so-so" for various reasons: "The Case of the Borderland Dandelions" by Howard Engel is stylistically good but has a puzzle that is easy to solve and overlooks a simple way Holmes could have confirmed one of his surmises instead of relying on a bluff to get a confession; "A Hansom for Mr. Holmes" by Gillian Linscott is skillfully and amusingly narrated by a hansom cab driver but has a very weak plot; and "The Adventure of the Arabian Knight" by Loren D. Estleman brings Sir Richard Burton to Holmes's doorstep with a rather lame problem involving King Tut, which is "solved" when Holmes and Watson commit armed robbery in broad daylight. All of these have serious quality-control problems, and their good elements are undercut by weak or faulty ones.
Two more pastiches struck me as "poor," and three others seemed downright "terrible." Quite disappointing were Edward D. Hoch's "The Adventure of the Anonymous Author" and Carolyn Wheat's "The Remarkable Worm." Hoch's story has a weak opening puzzle, an improbable killing that occurs near the end, and a very weak solution to the new problem of helping the killer. Wheat's story is framed with silly material pertaining to Watson's vanity, while its main plot is resolved by Holmes and Watson committing a serious crime in order to gather evidence. Even worse than these are "The Siren of Sennen Cove" by Peter Tremayne, "The Case of the Bloodless Sock" by Anne Perry, and "Darkest Gold" by L. B. Greenwood. Tremayne's story is weak in style, grammar, punctuation, and plot premises, has an easily solved puzzle, is inconsistent about the weather and the danger to Holmes and Watson, and is resolved by Watson's improbably good marksmanship. Perry's story is filled with stylistic errors, makes a mockery of the idea that Prof. Moriarty is an intelligent and dangerous adversary, and is strung on a plot that relies entirely on the implausible inattentiveness of everyone responsible for the care of a child. Greenwood's story totally lacks any puzzle for Holmes or readers to solve, involves Holmes (in disguise) in a journey through the Congo (with Watson, in disguise, following him), and is resolved not by Holmes or even Watson but by the actions of Pygmies and the wife of the man that Holmes was accompanying.
Aside from the unevenness of the quality of the selections, there are traces of carelessness in the production of the book. Its copyright page erroneously attributes Linscott's story to Crider, and proofreading of the texts has been cursory: a few spelling and grammatical errors occur, as well as a large number of punctuation errors.