There are only a handful of authors that I trust implicitly. There are even fewer that I trust working within the world of Sherlock Holmes. Lyndsay Faye is the only writer I can think of who checks both boxes. Many have tried to “add” to the canon and I have found none so effortless as Faye’s stories.
With The Whole Art of Detection, Faye mimicked Watson’s storytelling and Sherlock’s antics. Here, Faye uses another, but no less brilliant, angle. The ‘editor’ has asked those who knew the world’s only consulting detective and his scrivener to write down their recollections. The reader sees the two men through the eyes of the submitter.
Are we myths, Mrs. Caine? Are we a part of something grown so huge that we are now fictional, nothing more than a carefully tapped our collection of two-dimensional letters on a page written by an equally famous medico? Have we been irrevocably flattened? … The wind moans in the hearth I just stoked, and the mice at my small office whisper their secrets quite audibly tonight, and the thought of becoming a mere fable is unsettling. ~Pg. 78, Henry Wiggins
Irene Adler recalls a second encounter with Sherlock, one in which she needed his help to discover the secret of stopped clocks. Street urchin Henry Wiggins, now a solicitor with his own firm, tells the tale of an insalubrious doctor and how he and Sherlock cracked the case. Geoffrey Lestrade’s story is told via diary entries, which the diarist has altered to, ahem, try to be more charitable in his descriptions of Mr. Holmes. Stanley Hopkins wrote letters to his mother about meeting his investigatory idol. Mr. Lomax, that indispensable librarian who assists Dr. Watson in “The Illustrious Client,” has a complicated story to tell. Last, but not least, the always charming Mrs. Hudson shares her memories along with some favorite recipes.
Taking a drink, I nodded. I don’t have to employ many words for men of his type to peg me. Old money, bit of a poet, has to make his own way. They can read it all in my manner and clothing, likely spy reflections of silver spoons in my disordered hair follicles even as my mended kerchief screams penury. ~ Pg. 235, A. Davenport Lomax
We can only hope Faye has more of these inventive stories to share with us. May there always be a gaslight on at 221b Baker St.
My rating: [icon name="star" class="" unprefixed_class=""][icon name="star" class="" unprefixed_class=""][icon name="star" class="" unprefixed_class=""][icon name="star" class="" unprefixed_class=""][icon name="star" class="" unprefixed_class=""]
My thanks to Jacob at Penzler Publishers.
Publisher: Mysterious Press (December 21, 2021)
Hardcover: 295 pages