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by George Mann, ed.
Titan, August 2017
304 pages
ISBN: 1783299320

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In 2016, the celebrated British anthologist and screenwriter George Mann's edited collection ASSOCIATES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES offered fans of the Holmes universe a collection of stories written in the first-person point of view of minor characters from the Sherlock Holmes canon. In other words, the novelty factor of these stories consisted in Watson not being the narrator.

I say "novelty" and not "gimmick" because there is nothing gimmicky about most of these stories. They are uniformly engrossing and original in ways besides the requisite perspectival shift. Each is enhanced by a brief authorial note that lets the reader into the authors' ways of reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, researching the late Victorian era, and writing homage and mystery.

A year after the publication of ASSOCIATES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, Mann presents a second batch, FURTHER ASSOCIATES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. Some of these stories are by authors who distinguished the first collection. Notable among these is Andrew Lane. In his FURTHER ASSOCIATES story, "The Unexpected Death of the Martian Ambassador," his gifts for description, the mining of historical detail, and the imagining of steampunk technologies all prove delightful.

James Lovegrove is also back with a second adventure, "The Noble Burglar," told from the point of view of Toby the dog. Lovegrove claims he wrote from this point of view on a dare. Toby's attention to detail, it turns out, rivals that of Holmes himself, particularly in the olfactory department.

FURTHER ASSOCIATES also includes stories by new writers—that is, writers new to the series. Dan Watters' "The Docklands Murder" follows the young Baker Street Irregular Wiggins's investigation of a murder during a historic workers' strike, to which Watters draws attention without pedantry. In "The Curious Case of Vanished Youth," Mark A. Latham takes Watson, sans Holmes, on a journey into London's homosexual counterculture, with the "strange" and "languid" Doyle character Langdale Pike. Latham makes Pike an associate of Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas (a decadent poet most famous as the lover of Oscar Wilde) and raises important questions about what Doyle knew—and wanted others to know, or not—about fin-de-siècle gay lives. He succeeds in effectively queering the Doyle canon, or, rather, demonstrating just how queer it's always been. Most of these authors have written Holmes or neo-Victorian fiction in other contexts, but one, Michelle Ruda, not only makes her publication debut in FURTHER ASSOCIATES, but admits to having encountered Holmes for the first time only in 2013. Her insightful take on an extremely minor Holmes character attests to the necessity of looking at literary tradition with the help of a fresh pair of eyes.

The Holmes fan must acquire this book, but readers new to the legend will also find the stories compelling, fast-paced, and a great introduction to the world of Baker Street and beyond.

§ Rebecca Nesvet is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. She specializes in nineteenth-century literature. https://uwgb.academia.edu/RebeccaNesvet

Reviewed by Rebecca Nesvet, August 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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