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Murder In Baker Street: New Tales Of Sherlock Holmes [Hardcover]

Martin H. Greenberg
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 10 2001
Ingeniously contrived and shrewdly executed by some of the finest talents at work in crime fiction today--Anne Perry, Loren Estleman, Gillian Linscott, Edward D. Hoch, Peter Tremayne, Stuart Kaminsky, Jon L. Breen, Bill Crider, Howard Engel, Carolyn Wheat, and L. B. Greenwood--the eleven stories in this premier volume celebrate the keen mind, ratiocinative methods, and singular manners of the most admired fictional sleuth of all time, Sherlock Holmes. More than a century has passed since the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, yet no literary detective before or since has inspired the loyalty and devotion of such legions of fans--not least among them the popular mystery writers who pay tribute to him in the stories they have authored especially for this collection. In these tales the inscrutable Holmes and his redoubtable companion, Dr. Watson, again display at their peerless best the science and arts of detection, whether they are investigating a crime in the wilds of Africa or uncovering villainy in the heart of London, whether it's the case of the bloodless sock or that of the vampire's mark. So, return again to the comfortable clutter of those rooms at 221B Baker Street and again observe Holmes in an old silk dressing gown, his gaze piercing and his fingers stained with chemicals or ink, as he peruses a telling trifle or takes up his violin. Again enjoy the unparalleled powers of his deduction, in eleven totally new, compelling adventures.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

With stories written especially for this collection, 11 mystery writers pay tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's perennially popular canon. Chief among them are Anne Perry, Carolyn Wheat, Bill Crider, and Stuart Kaminsky. For all collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Modern authors can't stop writing about Sherlock Holmes. This collection of 11 short stories brings together some of the best recent efforts. The authors represented, all established veterans of the genre, include such diverse talents as Anne Perry, Edward Hoch, Stuart Kaminsky, and Loren Estleman. Except for some slips into modern language, the stories are uniformly satisfying. In addition to a pace that would delight the energetic Holmes, the stories have clever plots and strong characters, including vivid portraits of historical figures such as Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, and Sir Richard Burton. The action hinges not only on the ancient sins of greed and lust but also on "new" technologies such as photography and motion pictures. This collection should be required reading for anyone planning to write about Holmes, his friends, and his foes. Unlike so many latter-day Holmes tales, done in by rambling dialogue and leaden masses of detail, the stories collected here remind readers of the elements of Conan Doyle's greatness: difficult puzzles, vivid but selective detail, and tight dialogue. John Rowen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks depth Sept. 19 2001
By A Customer
Whereas I am always greateful when new Holmes stories are released, particularly in anthology form, and as long as they do not deal with utterly bizarre places or events, I found that these stories were rather lack-luster. Within the first three days I had the book, I read through five pieces, none of which were as remarkable as I hoped they would be. The usual contributors are here, and one can usually expect outstanding entries by Loren D. Estleman and Edward B. Hoch, but here their stories are as flat as the rest. Hopefully in their next effort, the writers will write more engaging tales.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yaas, Murder even in hallowed Baker Street! Dec 10 2003
By Raven
I found this collection to be very good, although I am sick of stories of "The Remarkable Worm". For my money, August Delerth's version, ammittedly with Solar Pons, not Holmes, is best. The rest of the book makes up for the one story I didn't like so it's five Sherlock stars from The Blade!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars IN THIS CASE, "NEW" DOES NOT MEAN "GOOD" May 25 2009
By David R. Eastwood - Published on Amazon.com
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Huge disappointment Jan. 28 2008
By G - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book hoping it would do some justice to the original stories. I unfortunately found this to be a huge letdown. None of the stories could keep me interested. The deductions lack the depth in the original ones. Worse still was the characterization of Professor Moriarty in one of the stories. Moriarty was considered an adversary on par with Sherlock Holmes in the original stories but here his characterization is a mockery.

If you are a big fan of the originals, stick to them.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yaas, Murder even in hallowed Baker Street! Dec 10 2003
By Raven - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found this collection to be very good, although I am sick of stories of "The Remarkable Worm". For my money, August Delerth's version, admittedly with Solar Pons, not Holmes, is best. The rest of the book makes up for the one story I didn't like. Remember the book isn't over until you read the last page! It'll be worth it! Quoth the Raven...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Elementary Coverage, Watson Aug. 24 2009
By Writetrak - Published on Amazon.com
This book reminds me of a bumper sticker I once saw on the back of a pick up truck while driving through San Antonio. It read: DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS. The same sentiment seems to apply to this book and the great state of Sherlock Holmes.
The eleven new stories are okay and were probably a fun exercise for the writer's involved. However, clever or not so clever graffiti doesn't add much to the Alamo-like walls that surround the great sleuth so it's easy to see why some true fans and scholars will object to the new stories.
Saying that, I found some stories in the book to be enjoyable, others okay and one or two so-so. However, I really enjoyed the additional chapters; 'Sidelights on Sherlock Holmes' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lloyd Rose's '100 Years of Sherlock Holmes' and Jon L. Lellenberg's 'And Now, A word From Arthur Conan Doyle' for their insight into the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creation he gave us, and how the character became bent and shaped into what we've come to recognize over the decades.
If you're a true Holmes fan then you might feel your state of being is being messed with. If you're a so-so fan and enjoy the writing style of some of the authors then you might find their takes different and interesting. The real question though is are they interesting enough for the cover price?
Whether you think it's a good bargain though is inevitably up to you.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Two Good Stories, Overwhelmed by Many Awful Ones Aug. 14 2009
By Harkius - Published on Amazon.com
I agree whole-heartedly with nearly everything said in Mr. David R. Eastwood's review. Go read that as it is thorough and well-considered.

What I do not agree with is his condemnation of "A Hansom for Mr. Holmes". I actually found this to be the most interesting of the stories in the book, as it is nice and refreshing to see a non-Watsonian narrator, and get his perspective on our favorite detective. In addition, it was well-written, although the plot is not particularly complex. (For that matter, many of the stories of the canon would not be either, were they told by an outsider, and in this fashion. It is not a great way to establish an entire series, mind you, but it is a puff of fresh air in a graveyard of bad stories.)

I particularly want to talk about the Siren story though. This was so laughably awful as to actually make me angry about having purchased the book. If you want to get an impression of how bad it is, take an average episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, remove Scooby and the gang, and replace them with Watson and Holmes. Done! See how bad that is?

For the material here, I give this a D-, and I would suggest all but the most hardcore fans of Holmes go somewhere better.

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