Laurie R. King knows Sherlock Holmes. Her popular Mary Russell series embraces a new and different perspective of Holmes: as a man married to Mary Russell, a scholarly feminist some 40 years younger than the iconic Sherlock. Leslie S. Klinger is considered the go-to authority on all things Sherlockian. Together, they have collected a set of short stories from various authors with Holmes and his methods as a jumping-off point.
This is not the typical anthology of stories, where Holmes is just rewritten by different authors. There were apparently no rules for the writers, and the stories—from such diverse writers as Alan Bradley (the Flavia De Luce series,) Dana Stabenow (primarily known for the Alaskan Kate Shugak mysteries,) and Lee Child (more of a thriller writer than a mystery writer, in my opinion)—are all over the place in style, plot, and even format.
Colin Cotterill, for example, does a graphic short story. Think comic crossed with a graphic novel. It is clever but somehow rather disconcerting in this collection. Holmes himself only actually appears in a half-dozen or so of the stories. The rest are either rather pastiche-like or use Holmesian techniques in solving a mystery.
The problem with this collection may very well be the expectation of the reader going into the book. It is not about Holmes. It does not recreate Holmes. It is, as the cover states, “inspired by” Holmes. Each author (and editor) involved takes their inspiration and presents it in a different way. It is innovative and thoughtful, somewhat literary and mind-broadening. Of course, if you don’t want your mind broadened, or at least not in this way, and you are not in tune with books and mysteries that have a literary bent, you may find that A Study in Sherlock is not for you.
Look at the author list to see if any of your favorite authors are represented. IF you like the author already, you are likely to smile in amusement and understanding at their contributions and gloss over the ones you don’t like. Overall, I don’t usually read short stories because I like more character development. I chose to read this one because Laurie R. King, Dana Stabenow, Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear are among my favorite authors—and because I have always loved all the manifestations and presentations of Holmes: married, single, gay, Robert-Downeyesque, modernized, or Victorian, it makes no never mind to me! I like to recommend books that might challenge or energize the reader, and this collection will definitely do that. I hope the reader can set aside any preconceived notions or prejudices and give this interesting short story collection a try.