Philip K Jones is one of the most experienced Holmes reviewers in the world and maintains the world’s largest database of pastiches. He was particularly keen to review Sherlock Holmes and The Strangers Room as it contains more than forty short ‘pastiches’ which Phil nicely refers to as ‘moments’ rather than mysteries. This is a fascinating collection that we savoured the first time we read it and we agree with Phil that some of them are an excellent insight into the true Holmes and Watson.
“This is a collection of Sherlockian items that were originally published on the Internet. Some of them have been revised for this publication and some remain in their original forms. In contrast to the usual Sherlockian anthology, this book is an assembly of fragments. Each item is complete and entire, but they mostly catch moments, not stories. Some are complete mysteries, with villains to catch and investigations to be performed, but, mostly, they are visions of Holmes and Watson, along with Mrs. Hudson, Inspector Lestrade and the irregulars at particular moments. Some of these moments are quite important, but that is all they are, moments.
A number of these items center on Christmases, mostly those following Holmes’ return from the Great Hiatus. In general, the entire collection celebrates the change of Holmes into a human being. His boyhood is suggested as lonely and neglected with Mycroft as his only real human contact. His association with Watson is depicted as the source of his growing humanity and these tales seem to capture the moments he sees other people as more than simply data to be integrated into his catalogue of human activities.
Many of the items are authored by the editor, David Ruffle. He confines himself, mostly, to short pieces and to the area of Puns. Two of his creations are presented, both of which easily merit inclusion in any collection of Sherlockian narrative puns, if such can ever be published. Poems are also included. These are strictly outside my areas of expertise, but I do concede that they definitely convey impressions of the individuals they portray.
This collection is definitely not a group of Sherlockian mysteries. Instead, it is a series of more than forty small peeks at Holmes, Watson and the standard Doyle dramatis personae that are not afforded by the Canon. It is possible that readers may dislike or consider some of the views to be silly. It is completely impossible that all readers will fail to find at least one view that strikes a chord within their mind that says, “of course! That was the real Holmes (or Watson).” Further, readers may encounter a few old friends along the way.”
Sherlock Holmes Tales From The Strangers Room is available through all good independent booksellers including Classic Specialities and the Mysterious Bookshop (NY) as as well Amazon and in all electronic formats such as Amazon Kindle.