Mower ably emulates Conan Doyle in his solid fifth pastiche collection (after 2021’s Sherlock Holmes—The Baker Street Epilogue). Two of the six stories stand out as worthy of the best pasticheurs. In “The Neckar Reawakening,” the detective travels to Sussex after a 15-year-old maid is found drowned in a pond. The chief constable suspects foul play, as six months earlier a young woman died in the same place and the same way, wearing a similar necklace with a mermaid charm attached. That fatality was ruled a suicide despite the coroner’s unusual choice not to conduct a postmortem, and the locals link the deaths to the legend of a water monster known as the Neckar.
“The Misadventure of the Norfolk Poacher,” in which a former Baker Street Irregular is charged with killing a poacher, highlights Holmes’s deductive reasoning grounded in an observation of subtle clues. On the other hand, “A Diplomatic Affair,” centered on Holmes’s decoding of a newspaper ad suggesting a threat to the prime minister, and “The Case of the SS Bokhara,” set when Watson believed Holmes had perished at Reichenbach, fall short of the promise of their openings. Pastiche fans will welcome more from Mower.
Mark Mower dipped into the world of Sherlockian pastiche in 2015 when he contributed a story to the initial volumes in “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories”. Since then, he’s been reliably consistent with contributions to subsequent anthologies, as well as collections containing both those previously published stories and new ones as well.
“The Baker Street Archive”, Mower’s fifth collection, contains six Holmes adventures. Following in the footsteps of August Derleth – who wrote “The Circular Room” as both a Holmes story and a Solar Pons story – Mower’s “The Misadventure of the Norfolk Poacher” originally appeared as a Pons adventure in “The New Adventures of Solar Pons”, and now it features Holmes.
My personal favorite of this set is “The Yuletide Heist”, where Holmes recounts one of his past cases to a small Christmas gathering of friends in the Bake Street sitting room. Holmes proves to be a master storyteller, leading the guests through the events of the long-ago crime, and providing a surprise ending.
Fortunately, the Watsonian muse is still strong with Mr. Mower, and we can look forward to many more adventures from that quarter.
A solid collection of stories to satisfy your Sherlock Holmes addiction. Definitely worth picking up.
It has been quite a few years since I have read some of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. However, I have enjoyed reading series such as Lady Sherlock by Sherry Thomas and Laurie R. King's Mary Russell. I have also enjoyed watching tv shows like Sherlock with Martin Freeman, so I was intrigued by this collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories by Mark Mower.
Sherlock Holmes - The Baker Street Archive is a well-written collection of stories that stays true to the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although I didn't find the first of the cases, the Diplomatic Affair, to be a particularly thrilling read, I was glad that the remainder of the stories piqued my interest. My favourite within the collection was the Case of the Learned Linguist. It's 1923, and Sherlock is now in his late 60's and living as a recluse on the south coast of England. Dr. Watson is living in London with his wife and, upon receiving a call from Sherlock, is more than pleased to be reunited with his former colleague to embark on a new case!
Sherlock and Dr. Watson are asked to help unravel a challenge left by a University linguist in his will upon his death. The will has stipulated that the first of his three sons to find the father's hidden 'treasure' will inherit a considerable fortune. If not found, the will states that all the assets will be gifted to a university, and the sons will not inherit anything. I love language, anagrams and cryptograms, so I enjoyed how this story slowly revealed the solution to the enigma.
I would recommend it to readers who enjoy "Sherlock" and readers on the hunt for some good short stories they can pick up and finish in an evening. These are definitely worth reading.
Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Archive is available from this site with a share going to our #bookstobooks program funding books for Happy Life Mission in Kenya - but also from all good bookstores (links on the book pages).