You don’t need me to tell you that there are so, so many Sherlock Holmes spin-offs out there, in books and in movies and in certain very popular BBC TV series. For a logical guy who eschews emotional attachments, Mr. Holmes certainly inspires intense devotion from generations of fans.
I’m pleased to have discovered a gem in Lyndsay Faye’s mystery novel, Dust and Shadow. Ms. Faye gives several nods to the Sherlock canon, without which a Sherlockian novel would not be complete. She continues in the tradition of dear Dr. John H. Watson as the narrator (could it be that the unassuming Army medic is the one whom we really adore? I for one could listen to his voice forever.). She is successful at catching that voice; the narration sounds like Watson, without any visible sign that Ms. Faye is trying too hard to achieve that effect.
The plot: Holmes and Watson are tracking down Jack the Ripper in the filthy alleyways of Whitechapel, London. Of course, there is plenty of suspense as more and more horrific murders are discovered. Along the way, we also make the acquaintance of engaging minor characters who are originals to this book.
So, even for those of us purists who like to spend too much time trying to figure out how many marriages Watson really had, this is a terrific read.
Other Sherlock Holmes/John Watson spin-off books include:
The Star of India: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes by Carole Bugge
A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullen
Sons of Moriarty and More Stories of Sherlock Holmes edited by Loren D. Estleman
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King