An anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories (Point 1). Written by authors like Neil Gaiman, Laurie King, Stephan King, Naomi Novik, Stephan Baxter (Points 2, 3, 4, and so on.) So, how many more points does a book like “The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes ”need to be “pick up right now”?
The central idea of the anthology is one single line, perhaps the most famous of Holmes’ quotes (no, not that one. An actual quote from canon). And from that, the authors have gone ahead and given their own meaning to the words “improbable” and “impossible”.
Some have gone the traditional route, the seemingly supernatural tales (like “The Sussex Vampire” from canon) – murders in empty rooms sealed from inside, a child vanishing from a house, the man who stepped back into his house to collect his umbrella and was never seen again. Some have gone ahead with the traditional meaning of improbable, the true supernatural mysteries. This contains ancient curses, mummies, and even few creatures and themes which have escaped from Lovecroftian collection.
Then there are the science fiction stories, or should I say, mysteries set in science fiction genre. And last but not the least, are those which seem improbable, simple because they describe the triumphs of people who are often (rightfully, in most cases) overshadowed by Holmes.
Like the setting, the themes also cover a whole gamut of genres. There are your standard mysteries, the classic who-done-its. There are horror and thriller stories, with your standard spooks and ghouls and other wee-little beesties. And then there are some stories which would be better described as narratives, since they contain no big mystery but just nice story.
Some highlights for me in the collection were Neil Gaiman’s take (I have a feeling I have read it before) on “The Study in Scarlet”, the curious coincidence of both the Kings putting Holmes in the background, and Robert J. Sawyer’s (whose novel “Flashforward” is on TV now) take and solution of the real-life events surrounding “The Final Problem” and “The Empty House”.
I have had a long history with Holmes pastiches. I started out not liking anything not strictly according to to canon, but over the years, those separate viewpoints have yielded quite a few gems. This anthology is one of them. If you are a Holmes’ fan, pick it up without fail. If you are not a Holmes’ fan, still pick it up, and then we will discuss why you are not a Holmes’ fan.
Quote of the Day:
How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
– Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four