Philip J. Carraher’s first collection of short stories is called Alias Simon Hawkes: Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in New York. As you can guess from the title, Carraher has created a series of new mysteries based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous sleuth. There are four short stories of varying lengths and each includes some trivia, such as the popular Holmes’ misquote of “Elementary". Anyone who is familiar with Doyle’s fascination with spiritualism will be pleased with this collection, because three of the four stories have spiritualism and otherworldly themes at their core. It’s no easy task to take on the world’s most famous detective, give him a new identity and transplant him in New York. Carraher explains that Holmes’ is hiding from his old nemesis Dr. Moriarty and so has taken up residence in an exclusive New York City men’s club called “The Dead Rabbits Society.” I found it amusing that a men’s club bore the name of a medical test result that usually puts an end to bachelorhood.
That said, I must admit that my edition had several annoying typos that took away from the pleasure of the stories. I hope that future printings will benefit from a good going-over by a copy editor. The stories themselves are typical detective mysteries with the requisite bumbling coppers. Three of the four stories involve two police detectives, Blaine and Cullen. Each policeman either begrudgingly takes Hawkes’ advice or eagerly seeks him out. I would have preferred the stories to have featured one chief inspector throughout for continuity rather than having Hawkes flip-flop from an amateur sleuth to a master criminalist. I cannot reveal many, if any, details but I will say that it seems to me that the prime motive for murder during the Victorian Age was money. And, yes, there is a butler in one of the stories. Did he do it? Well, yes and no.
The story that stands out is Carraher’s attempt to alter another genre in “The Glass Room.” It is a story with a unique twist on an old favorite -- a double murder has been committed within a locked glass room: the locked-room murder.
Carraher’s best stories are his shortest, reminiscent of the Five-Minute Mysteries series by Canadian author Ken Wood. I found "The Adventure of the Magic Alibi" at 110 pages a bit of a stretch with needless repetition of clues and plot lines. I give Alias Simon Hawkes two-and-a-half stars, and I look forward to reading Carraher’s next collection.