Monday, July 20, 2020

The Wild Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Volume One - Will Murray

I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan for close to 60 years now. I don’t recall which of the stories I read first, but I know I was in elementary school when I discovered the series. Then, when I was in fifth grade, I read THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (in the Scholastic Book Club edition, I think; I’ve written about that on the blog before) and was blown away, to the point that I read it again just a few months later during the summer. It remains one of my all-time favorite mystery novels, all these decades later.

By the time I was out of high school, I’d read all the stories and all four novels by Arthur Conan Doyle. When I say I’m a fan, I don’t mean to imply that I’m any sort of Holmes scholar. Most of the stories, I’ve read only once and I never actually studied them. I couldn’t win a Holmes trivia contest to save my life. But I enjoy the characters and as time went on, I read some of the pastiche novels, too, such as the ones by Nicholas Meyer and THE GIANT RAT OF SUMATRA by Richard L. Boyer when Warner Books published it in 1976. I’ve never written a Holmes pastiche, but I published one a while back at Rough Edges Press, Stephen Mertz’s excellent SHERLOCK HOLMES: ZOMBIES OVER LONDON (now available from Wolfpack Publishing and highly recommended).

So it’s safe to say that I was inclined to like THE WILD ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Will Murray, a new collection of ten Holmes tales written by Murray for various anthologies. This volume certainly didn’t disappoint me. In fact, I had an absolutely great time reading it. For a long-time Holmes fan, it was pure pleasure.

Some authors have taken Holmes out of his element, placing their stories in different settings and using elements from other genres. For the most part, Murray’s Holmes is the pure quill, though, classic style stories with the original setting and supporting characters. Here are the tales in this collection:

Is a blue-skinned dinosaur tearing up the Essex countryside? "The Wild Adventure of the Indigo Impossibility" provides the astonishing answer.

Holmes and Watson plunge into the darkest dens of Limehouse in search of "The Mystery of the Elusive Li Shen." Is he man, myth, or monster?

What is the secret of the uncatchable Thames footpad chronicled in "The Adventure of Old Black Duffel?"

A famous American soldier of fortune asks Sherlock Holmes to locate a Russian adventuress long believed dead in "The Adventure of the Nebulous Nihilist."

Did fairies lure a young Manchester boy to his doom? "The Misadventure of the Bonny boy" tells the chilling tale.

A wealthy art collector challenges Sherlock Holmes with an unsolvable riddle. Or is it a riddle? What is "The Enigma of Neptune's Quandary?"

Is a dead man haunting his office––or might an even stranger explanation exist for why his frightened face is imprinted on a windowpane? "The Adventure of the Glassy Ghost" reveals all.

A fiendish murderer strikes down victim after victim in "The Problem of the Bruised Tongues." The only clue: the discolored tips of their tongues.

"The Adventure of the Throne of Gilt." What could it be, and why should Dr. John Watson fear it so?

A revengeful enemy plots a gruesome end for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in "The Unsettling Matter of the Graveyard Ghoul."

If you can resist those, you’re made of stronger stuff than I am! I'm glad to know that Murray has more of them waiting in the wings. I hope we get collections of them, too. In the meantime, this first volume of THE WILD ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES gets a very high recommendation from me.


Rick Robinson said...

I'll have to try this one. I'm quite pleased with the many volumes of The MX Books of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, all are, as you put it, the pure quill, setting and characters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fine and helpful review, James. Will Murray writes the type of Holmes adventure that I love to read. As a kid, I was disappointed by Doyle's "The Valley of Fear" because Holmes, Watson and their very British setting were absent for much of the story.

Jim Meals

Spike said...

Sounds great. I ordered it. I really enjoyed Murray’s Tarzan on Mars. Though I was scratching my head a few times thinking “was John Carter that much of a jerk” in the Burroughs novels.

Anyhow, sure I will like this.

Rick Robinson said...

I got the book today, only to discover, in the small print on the copyrights page, that all but one of these have already appeared in the MX Holmes volumes, which I have. I wish you have mentioned, this, it would have saved me a purchase and return. I notice Amazon's description doesn't say the stories have been previously either.

Rick Robinson said...

Or perhaps you didn't know. At any rate, I've returned the book but wetted my appetite for some Holmes reading.