Thursday, September 22, 2016

Redeeming Sherlock Holmes.

Let's talk about true Sherlockian love for a moment.

We all know Watson put some really wonderful stories to paper when he wrote about his friend Sherlock Holmes. Classics. Stories that have lived through the centuries. (Yes, "centuries" . . . though it's not been 200 years yet, the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s count!) Really, really good stories. For the most part . . . .

Mmm, yessss, there are those other stories.

I mean, we can all go on about "The Red-Headed League" or The Hound of the Baskervilles. A Study in Scarlet has that second part we don't care about, but, oh, that first part and our first chance to meet Sherlock Holmes. We have favorites. We have Irene Adler. And the words come so easy when we get to talk about those cases.

But anyone who's made it past Reichenbach knows also that there are some not-so-great stories. If you've made it through the entire Canon, you definitely have at least one stinker that comes to mind. And that's where Sherlockian love gets interesting.

Which is what's going to make Christopher Redmond's latest effort, About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story Is The Best, something that should be fun to read.

Chris gathered together sixty Sherlockian writers from all over the map to each write an essay about one of the sixty original Sherlock Holmes stories and explain exactly why it is the best of the bunch. Every single one of them. Even that one you really, really think is the worst.

It's one thing to do an appreciation of a story, even one of lower quality. But to try to make a case for it being the absolute best? That means every one of those sixty writers is going to be trying extra hard to find merit in stories normally dismissed with a casual wave. The good ones will be there, too, of course. And those really long sort-of boring ones that fall somewhere in between.

A lot of people have followed Conan Doyle's lead and made a list of their favorite Sherlock Holmes stories, but this book, About Sixty, is the first really great point in your Sherlockian life to reset that list. As you read the sixty essays, you can track your favorites and come up with a new list: the ten best cases made for a story being the best. And then, looking at that list next to your old top ten, you might even find one or two changes . . . don't be stubborn now . . . a couple of the essays Chris Redmond has gathered might just be that good.

Will the essay I did for the book be one of those? (Yes, I somehow managed to get some words published somewhere other than this blog.) Personally, I'm thinking my odds are pretty long. I got a story that definitely doesn't usually make anyone's top ten,  But I gave it my best, as I'm sure the other writers in the collection did as well. Which story? Well, I'll leave that as a mystery for the moment. I'm sure this won't be the last time that About Sixty gets a mention here.

Pre-order information from the publisher can be found here.


  1. Hey, Brad, sorry for the OT, but have you heard of this: ? Could be the next big thing. Anyway, new SH on the horizon!

    1. Okay, I'm curious! (Except for that part about collaborating with the Doyle Estate. They don't have much of a reputation as a creative entity in film.)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It probably just means that they paid them for use of the last copyrighted stories?