There are a lot of women in Sherlock Holmes's life these days.
Whether it's girlfriend Janine, partner Joan Watson, apprentice/wife Mary Russell, or whatever role Irene is taking in a given moment, it's not just a boys' club at Baker Street any more. Even Mary Morstan has stepped up her game with the great detective.
So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find Sherlock Holmes had a niece during a trip to the local Barnes & Noble. Chances are I had heard it before, but something about the cover of the third book in the Evelina Cooper series caught my eye, so I backtracked to find the first of the set, 2013's A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway.
Evelina Cooper is Sherlock's niece on her non-circus-folk side. She lives in a steampunk/magical London of 1888. And she doesn't seem to be in any hurry to drag out Uncle Sherl.
I picked up A Study in Silks out of curiosity, a little light reading with a Holmes connection, but . . . interesting thing so far . . . Emma Jane Holloway doesn't seem to be looking for "pasticheur" as a job description. Evelina Cooper seems to be living her own life, without any hovering from Uncle Sherlock. And that seems like pretty much a good thing . . . for a time.
But as the pages flip by, and Uncle Sherlock doesn't stroll into frame, one starts going, "Hey, he was mentioned three times on the book's cover!" Evelina is only mentioned four. That's practically equal billing. So then one starts to wonder: Just how much Sherlock Holmes does a book need to have before it can list Sherlock Holmes on the label as an ingredient?
Like anything else in the arts, I suppose it depends upon the skill and talent of the artist. As I'm still working on Evelina's adventures, the jury is still out on that one. But at least, with all the other women in Sherlock Holmes's life these days (and the creators of Sherlock talking about how much they like adding them), niece Evelina is giving him some space.