Friday, September 25, 2020

How I Came to Appreciate Undershaw

[A version of this essay originally appeared on the Undershaw website, August 23, 2017]
NOTE: The Kickstarter for the latest volumes of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, Parts XXII, XXIII, and XXIV runs through October 25th, 2020, and can be found at:

I have to warn you: This is written from the perspective of a Sherlockian. I’ve been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I was ten years old, in the mid-1970’s. In the forty-five-plus years since then, I’ve collected literally thousands of traditional Holmes adventures in the form of novels and short stories, radio and television episodes, movies and scripts, comics and unpublished manuscripts and fan fiction. And I play The Game with deadly seriousness.

You haven’t heard of The Game? That’s where Holmes and Watson are recognized as historical figures, born in the 1850’s, and living to ripe old ages before passing away in the twentieth century. As such, Watson was the chronicler of Holmes’s adventures, which he later published with the help of his Literary Agent, Dr. – and later Sir – Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’m not the only person who approaches Sherlock Holmes in this manner. Yet, even if one firmly looks at Holmes through this perspective, there’s no getting away from his being intertwined with Conan Doyle every once in a while.

But make no mistake: I’m a fan of Holmes and Watson.

Holmes Pilgrimages

In 2013, I was able to visit England on the first (of what has turned out to be three, so far) Holmes Pilgrimages. My wife and son stayed home, both recognizing that this was almost a religious experience for me. I’ve worn a deerstalker as my only hat since I was nineteen, and it went with me throughout the entire trip. I’d been planning the journey for years, making extensive use of over two-dozen Holmes travel books in my collection. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and if it didn’t concern The Great Detective in some form or fashion, I pretty much didn’t do it. For instance, I refused to ride the London Eye, as it’s a modern contrivance that has nothing to do with my heroes. But I did explore The Tower of London – not for its historic or tourist value, mind you, but because it features in so many Holmes stories . . .

. . . but not in original sixty stories, referred to as The Canon. Holmes and Watson don’t visit The Tower in any of those, although they do see it from across the Thames while riding in a boat in The Sign of the Four. However, they have business at The Tower one way or another in quite a few of those post-Canon stories, "pastiches", as brought to us by later Holmes enthusiasts, after Conan Doyle. He was the first “Literary Agent”, serving in that capacity in fits and starts from the mid-1880’s, when A Study in Scarlet was written and then published in December 1887, all the way through the last Canonical adventure, “Shoscombe Old Place”, which appeared in The Strand in 1927. In between, Conan Doyle decided that he didn’t like Holmes very much, and was very happy to assist in reporting in “The Final Problem” that Holmes had supposedly died at the hands of Professor Moriarty atop the Reichenbach Falls on May 4th, 1891. It took years before new chronicles appeared in The Strand magazine to explain just how Holmes had survived that encounter.

So even though Conan Doyle only associated himself with five-dozen “official” stories about Holmes and Watson, there have been thousands of them since then, filling in the gaps within and around and through the originals, and attempting to answer the many questions that were left hanging. Thus, my first Holmes Pilgrimage in 2013 visited not only sites mentioned in the Canonical narratives, but a great many other Holmes-sites as well.

David Marcum and his deerstalker at 221b Baker Street

An amazing thing about London is that, wherever you go to see something on your list – especially if it’s a Holmes List – you’ll likely find two other things that you also wanted to see right next door or across the street from the first place. After having read for decades about Holmes from my own corner of the United States, specifically in eastern Tennessee, it was amazing to see the real London. It was nothing like I’d pictured in my head for all of those years, proving to me yet again that whatever you expect or imagine is nothing like seeing the real thing.

So as I traipsed around London, that place at the top of wish list for most of my life, going from Holmes Site to Holmes Site, I couldn’t help but find myself occasionally passing sites related to Conan Doyle as well. They weren’t intended stops on their own. Rather, they were buildings on the way from here to there. Conan Doyle had several homes in London. There was a house in Montague Place, just behind the British Museum – now long gone. Not far away is No. 2 Upper Wimpole Street, where a Green Plaque commemorates his residence there . . .

At No. 2 Upper Wimpole Street

. . . and just a block or so from there is No. 2 Devonshire Place, which has a fanlight proclaiming it to be “Conan Doyle House”:

No. 2 Devonshire Place

Here I am at No. 2 Devonshire Place on the Second Pilgrimage, when it was covered up in scaffolding for repairs:

Another Shot of No. 2 Devonshire Place

Apparently there is some disagreement as to which of these two houses – in Upper Wimpole or Devonshire – are the legitimate residences.

I passed by all of these Conan Doyle homes multiple times as I criss-crossed Marylebone and Bloomsbury and points in between. I even took photos and “selfies” at each of them, but it wasn’t for the historical aspect or the Doyle-ness of them. Rather, as I played The Game, I pictured Watson stopping by to discuss the latest project with The Literary Agent – or perhaps even Holmes himself crossing the threshold for a visit . . . or possibly to plead that the narratives be treated in a more scientific and less dramatic fashion.

I also happened to visit another Conan Doyle house during that first 2013 Pilgrimage. As part of my overall exploration, I wanted to go to Scotland, and where else to dip in for a limited amount of time than Edinburgh? While there, I ate at the Conan Doyle Pub, just across the square from ACD's birthplace. And the best part – to me, anyway, and worth the trip up there – was visiting the Holmes statue that has been erected just in front of it:

At the Holmes Statue in front of Conan Doyle’s birthplace, Edinburgh

After my first Holmes Pilgrimage in 2013, I didn’t know if I’d ever get back to England. However, was able to make further Holmes Pilgrimages in 2015 and 2016, and again saw many wonderful Holmes sites, as well as once again repeatedly passing by Conan Doyle’s London houses. On each of my trips, I went to many places, and I was glad enough to have passed by The Literary Agent’s former houses as part of that, even though they weren’t my goal. Having seen them, I didn’t feel the need to travel to any of the others – Conan Doyle’s Southsea residence in Portsmouth, for instance, or Crowborough, where he lived out his later years, or even Undershaw, about which I’d heard quite a bit.

Undershaw and The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories

Several years ago, a lot of people that I “knew” (in this modern sense of knowing someone electronically) through various Sherlockian connections were beginning to write about visiting the ruins of Undershaw, and more often about how they were interested in “saving” Undershaw from decay, or from being turned into condominiums. I vaguely noticed when I’d see something about it, but it never really affected me. I did purchase a couple of books produced by MX Publishing whose author royalties were donated to the Undershaw Preservation Trust (UPT), an organization founded to save the house – but my interest was in the Holmes stories they contained, and not the charity.

But eventually I began to be educated about Undershaw, by way of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

In early 2015, I woke up early from a dream. If I’d rolled over and gone back to sleep, I might have forgotten it, but instead, I got up. I went in to look at my shelves of Holmes books, wondering whom I might ask – for my dream was about editing a book of new, traditional Holmes short stories, written by my Sherlockian friends, or by some of the authors that I didn’t know, but whose works I admired.

I emailed a couple of good friends about it, and they liked the idea. Then I emailed Steve Emecz of MX Publishing, which had previously published my own Holmes books. He was supportive, and I started emailing other people. And they liked the idea, and wanted to participate.

Originally, I’d first and foremost thought of editing and producing this new book as a way to have more new Holmes stories set in the correct time period, and featuring the true and heroic Sherlock Holmes. This was initially very much a push-back against a certain television show at that time that I really despise which sets Holmes in the modern era, and makes him into a sociopathic murderer, Watson into a psychosomatic lump, Irene Adler into a dominatrix, Mrs. Hudson a drug dealer’s widow, and Mycroft and Moriarty . . . whatever disasters they’re supposed to be. I firmly believe and argue wherever I have a forum (including here) that this show does incredible damage to Sherlock Holmes.

And many people agreed with me. More and more authors started signing up to be in this new anthology, happy to follow the conditions that I laid down: Stories had to be set in the correct time period, with no “mind palaces”, and absolutely no “Sherlock” and “John”. Early in the process, we realized that with so many people participating, paying royalties would be a nightmare. What to do? And then I remembered MX’s earlier efforts to raise money for the UPT. We decided that the funds raised by the new anthology would be donated to that organization.

Many people continued to sign up to write stories for that initial book, to be called The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories. It was originally planned as a single volume with possibly two-dozen stories, but it became so big that it had to be split into two books. And then those two became three. By the time it was published in October 2015, it had turned into three simultaneous volumes, containing 63 new stories, as well as forewords and poems. They were arranged chronologically, and titled, Part I: 1881-1889, Part II: 1890-1895, and Part III: 1896-1929. There was a Kickstarter that raised nearly £15,000 – all from people who wanted more traditional Holmes stories. But all of that happened at the end of the process. While we were still in the middle of working it all out, it was determined that the author royalties would be shifted in a different direction.

Somewhere in the middle of 2015, while the stories were coming in and being edited, and decisions were being made about book sizes and hardcover versus paperback and cover illustrations and so on, Steve Emecz pointed out that our target recipient for the funds, the Undershaw Preservation Trust, was essentially finished – they had been set up to save Undershaw, and Undershaw had now been saved. The property had been purchased by the DFN Foundation to be converted into the Stepping Stones School for special needs children. The royalties from the books would instead go to support the school, which planned to move from their current location into the renovated building. In a long Skype call, Steve Emecz explained to me much of what had gone one over the past few years in terms of what threatened the building, what groups and personalities had worked to save it, and what the current plans were. Still not knowing much about Undershaw, I was as happy with this new direction for the royalties as I had been with the old, and preparation for the books continued.

With the publication of the books in October 2015, a grand event was planned in London. I was very fortunate to be able to attend – Holmes Pilgrimage No. 2. While there, I revisited many of the Holmes sites I’d seen two years earlier, and a lot of new ones as well. And on the night of the big party, October 1st, 2015, I was able to meet many of the wonderful and generous authors who had graciously contributed their time and efforts, along with Conan Doyle’s great-niece, Cathy Beggs.

With Cathy Beggs at the launch event for The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories October 2015

I also met a couple of people involved with the school: Melissa Farnham (later Grigsby), Head Teacher of Stepping Stones, and Norman Stromsoy, CEO of the DFN Foundation. They both gave a presentation about the school’s mission, and how it was still located in its current facilities while waiting for the remodeling to be completed at Undershaw. It was during that presentation that I first learned exactly what they do at Stepping Stones, how committed they are to excellence, and why being able to move to the much better facilities at Undershaw was so important. I also realized then that this project, which to me had simply been about encouraging more traditional Holmes stories, was actually going to be able to accomplish a lot of good as well.

After that trip, I returned home, very happy with what had been accomplished. I received a lot of emails, including some from people who hadn’t been in the original books but wanted to be in future volumes. Future volumes?!? I’d thought of this as a one-time thing. But . . . the hard decisions and heavy lifting about designing the books had already been done. More people wanted to write stories, and it was certain that more people wanted to read about the TRUE Sherlock Holmes. So . . .

. . . I hadn’t been back home for more than a week or so before I sent out new invitations for the next book, planned for Spring 2016, to be called Part IV: 2016 Annual. It was explained that the original three-book one-time event was now going to be an ongoing series. The stories rolled in, so many that I decided we should do a second book in 2016. So I sent out invitations for that one too, and more stories arrived, but this time there was a specific theme. Later that year we published, Part V: Christmas Adventures.

But just before that book came out in the fall of 2016, I was thrilled to receive an unexpected email from London – Would I like to return there again, this time as a guest at the Grand Opening of Stepping Stones at the now-completed Undershaw? Of course, the answer was Yes.

The offer to bring me back to the Holmesland came from the DFN Foundation, the organization responsible for purchasing Undershaw for the school, and then reclaiming the terribly neglected and damaged building. I really had no idea how bad things had become. After standing empty for years, walls and floors had rotted. Original plaster was ruined and windows broken. The building had been a hotel for decades, and the former owners had made some terrible structural decisions, such as cutting through an entire row of floor joists, leaving one section of the building in serious real danger of simply breaking away. The building had been in much worse shape than anyone had realized when construction started. Additionally, there were a number of requirements involved in bringing it back to what it had been historically – repairs to items such as floors, windows, and plaster had to fit within very specific guidelines related to the restoration of historic buildings – all balanced against what would be required to make a functional site for a school for children with special needs.

The cost had been much greater than the DFN Foundation had anticipated, but the repairs and improvements were accomplished beautifully – and I saw it in person when I attended the Grand Opening on September 9th, 2016.

That was on the second full day of my Holmes Pilgrimage No. 3. I was led down to Hindhead, where Undershaw is located, by author Luke Kuhns. He and I had corresponded for several years, and I met him person back in 2013, during Holmes Pilgrimage No. 1, when he was very capably in charge of the release party and signing for one of my early books, held at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel in Baker Street. Back when I’d first had the idea of the MX anthologies, Luke was the very first person to send me a story – giving me an indication that this thing might work after all.

With Luke Kuhns at Undershaw with his book Welcome to Undershaw

When we arrived at Undershaw, there was a threat of rain. As we walked down the driveway, in the spot that I later learned Conan Doyle had wrecked the first automobile ever driven in that village, it all became much more real to me. We arrived early, long before the expected crowds, and were welcomed by Norman Stromsoy. He made us tea – I got to have tea at Undershaw! – and then led us on a very extensive tour of the building, which Conan Doyle had originally constructed to accommodate his first wife, Louisa, who was ill during the last years of her life. We saw specially designed shallow stairs, for instance, fit for passage by someone in poor health. The stained glass windows had been restored. We visited the adjoining bedrooms – Conan Doyle’s and his wife’s, that had now been repurposed. It was in Louisa’s room, with its beautiful bow window, that her husband had read to his sick wife. We were told that in those days, the view from the window would have been incredible, although now it’s blocked by a century’s growth of tall trees. It was a beautiful room, and now it’s set up as the school’s library.

We toured the new building as well, immediately adjacent to the original structure built by Conan Doyle, with its classrooms, small theater, and swimming pool. Even in that section, there are references to Holmes, with quotes from Canonical stories etched onto the hallway windows that look out upon the grounds.

But for me, the most important part of the tour, and the room to which I returned again and again, was Doyle’s study. It was there that he had a number of contemporary literary visitors, such as Bram Stoker, but more importantly, it was in this room that the first Holmes stories written since “The Final Problem” had been published in The Strand in 1893 were prepared. I say “prepared” because, still playing The Game, I maintain that Watson wrote those new stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles and those contained in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, but it was here that Doyle provided editing and other Literary Agent-related services.

I was in and out of the room multiple times during the day. I was able to have my picture made at the modern desk, placed in the exact same spot where Conan Doyle’s was over a century earlier, and I even brought a sheet of fancy paper with me from home in order to write the first line of a new story while my deerstalker and I are sitting there, as shown here:

In the same spot as Conan Doyle, while I work on preparing a new Holmes story

(Many thanks to head teacher Melissa Grigsby, the head teacher then, for taking time out of her crazy day to take the pictures of me there.)

Later, I was able to spend some time in the same room with my friends, eminent husband-and-wife Sherlockians Roger Johnson and Jean Upton – here’s a photo of Roger and me, taken by Jean, at Conan Doyle’s mantel. (I’m holding the deerstalker instead of wearing it for a change.)

With Roger Johnson in Conan Doyle’s study

I got to spend time in the study when several members of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London made a special presentation to the school. And as the building became more and more crowded with happy guests, the study became a place to slip away and enjoy the quiet for a few minutes.

Later, there was the official opening ceremony, a very crowded affair indeed. I wore my ever-present deerstalker – the only person there so attired – and sent messages across social media indicating that all of the writers of new Holmes tales around the world were being represented. The event was attended by the MP for the area, local officials, and Richard Doyle, great-nephew of Sir Arthur. Later in the day, I was able to meet him and his son . . . .

With Richard Doyle and his son at the Stepping Stones opening

. . . and then to give him a tour of parts that he hadn’t seen, since I’d learned my way around pretty well by that time, having arrived early that morning. That was a lot of fun – talking with him and trying to explain U.S. Presidential politics, which – at that point in history, September 2016 – was before anyone realized just how terribly dire the situation was about to become.

At some point during the crowded afternoon, I was able to speak with David Forbes-Nixon, whose son was attending Stepping Stones. It was his DFN Foundation that had purchased and renovated the building. We discussed the MX anthologies, and how they were of benefit by providing extra funds for the school. I was very glad to meet him in person, as well as his assistant Julie Owen, and to thank them both for making it possible for me to be able to attend the event.

Finally, it was time to return to London. As the sun set and we walked up the drive, I took one last look at the restored building, which has come so far from Conan Doyle’s original home . . .

. . . to the nearly destroyed and abandoned wreck that it was just a few years ago . . .

. . . to the amazingly beautiful restored building that now houses the Stepping Stones School, the way I saw it as I departed . . .

In the years since, I’ve seen more and more reports of how further improvements have occurred – the grounds have been finished since I saw them, and there's a Conan Doyle room, and there has been talk of having the covers of the various MX Anthology volumes blown up and placed in the building as artwork. I hope someday to get back there and see what the school looks like after it’s been lived-in for a bit, as the day I was there was just a few days after they had moved in.

In the meantime, there is more news about the MX anthologies. We're up to 24 volumes now (as I write this in September 2020), with over 500 new Holmes adventures from nearly 200 contributors around the world - and I'm already working on additional volumes - Part XXV and beyond. We've raised nearly $70,000 for the school, and no end in sight.

Enthusiasm for the books continues to grow, both with readers and contributors, and this benefits both Holmes fans like me who want more and more new traditional adventures, and also the school, both by generating funds and also additional awareness.

I’m so thankful for the contributors to the books, as well as everyone who buys them - Truly, Sherlockians are the best people! I can't believe the opportunity that this project has given to me personally – to meet new friends, to help encourage new authors and give them a place to be published, to promote the true Mr. Holmes, and to assist in the important work being done at Stepping Stones at Undershaw. And I can't wait to see what happens next!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Sherlock Holmes: Other Canonical Characters

[A version of this essay appeared in The Proceedings of the Pondicherry Lodge, the official journal of The Sherlock Holmes Society of India (Volume 8, Issue 1, June 1, 2020)]

In December 1939, a mystery novel entitled Red Threads by Rex Stout was published, apparently to little acclaim then, and today it’s mostly forgotten.At that point, Stout had been serving as the literary agent to Archie Goodwin for five years, and he’d been involved in the publication of six Nero Wolfe adventures. A seventh Wolfe narrative would be published a month later, in early 1940. Today Stout’s legacy is his association with Wolfe (the son of Sherlock Holmes), and only true fans are aware of the non-Wolfe books in his bibliography.

Two years before writing Red Threads, Stout had also produced another non-Wolfe tale, The Hand in the Glove. This had also gained very little interest at the time and it’s now largely forgotten. Between 1913 and 1941, Stout wrote approximately eighteen non-Wolfe novels, but what makes Red Threads and The Hand in the Glove interesting – at least to me – is that they're set in The Wolfe Universe, even if Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin don’t make any appearances.

The Hand in the Glove concerns another New York private detective, Theodolinda “Dol” Bonner, who would later go on to appear in three Wolfe stories, and also in one of Stout’s three novels involving Tecumseh Fox – thus also linking Fox into The World of Wolfe. Stout also had one book and one short story about another detective named Alphabet Hicks – Alphabet Hicks?!? – who was tied to the overall Wolfe world by the appearance of a police sergeant, Purley Stebbins, who was also regularly in the Wolfe books.

Of these different works, Red Threads is the most interesting of all to me, as it features Inspector Cramer, the policeman who most often has dealings with Wolfe throughout The Corpus, as the collected novels and novellas concerning Wolfe are called. In this stand-alone volume we view Cramer functioning as a competent investigator through a third-person lens, instead of seeing him as narrated by Archie Goodwin – usually during those frequent moments when Cramer is at his most vexed while dealing with Wolfe. And yet, Red Threads and the other titles mentioned above don’t get much attention, even from the most devoted fans of Nero Wolfe, and I simply don’t understand this. If there was a book that had come down to us by way of Dr. Watson’s Literary Agent, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, telling a separate stand-alone adventure of Inspector Lestrade, it would be treated with same reverence and study as one of The Lost Books of the Bible, with all the research and examination that it deserved. (After all, the various Canonical Apocrypha pieces, such as “The Lost Special” and “The Man With the Watches”, are given all the respect that is due to them, in spite of Holmes’s negligible appearance within them.) The same would be true if there were stories from that same source about other Canonical personalities, such as Mycroft Holmes, Mrs. Hudson, Professor Moriarty, or even Barker, the private detective who was Holmes’s “hated rival upon the Surrey shore”.

Sadly, there are no stand-alone Canonically-based separate Lestrade adventures – at least by way of the Literary Agent’s desk. But fortunately it has been long-established by now that such narratives do not have to travel that route to be both wonderful and acceptable. Some modern-day literary agents have found their own items of excellence – and on occasion these are better than what Watson recorded (by way of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) in the official Canon. (Yes, I wrote that, and I stand by it.)

So even though we don’t have Apocryphal tales from the Literary Agent’s desk about Lestrade, Barker, and the rest, we do nevertheless have them from other people, and we are very fortunate indeed.

Inspector Lestrade

While there are thousands of non-Literary Agent narratives that provide additional details about the lives of Our Heroes, this essay will look at some that specifically focus upon certain individuals that were mentioned within The Canon, and tell us so much more about them than what we can see and deduce during the short times when they appeared on-stage at 221b Baker Street. And since this essay began by referring to Inspector Cramer, the policeman most often involved with Nero Wolfe, I’ll pivot to Holmes and the officer who is the most-associated with The Canon, Inspector Lestrade.

Inspector G. Lestrade appears or is mentioned in thirteen of the original Canonical adventures, nearly twenty-two percent of them. He’s described by Holmes early on as “the best of a bad lot”, but as time goes on Holmes’s opinion of the man rises quite a bit – later Holmes calls him “the best of the professionals”, and reciprocally, Lestrade thinks a great deal more of Holmes as well, as witnessed by his comments at the end of “The Six Napoleons”:

“Well,” said Lestrade, “I’ve seen you handle a good many cases, Mr. Holmes, but I don’t know that I ever knew a more workmanlike one than that. We’re not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow, there’s not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn’t be glad to shake you by the hand.”

The Canon isn’t very informative about Lestrade, but thank heavens we have a source of information that completely tells us the man’s full life history. Marcia Wilson has brought forth a massive amount of information in countless stories about both Lestrade and the rest of the Scotland Yarders, relating the history of their fascinating lives beyond what we learn by way of Watson in The Canon. Originally, she wrote dozens of stories that were posted online as fan-fiction under the pen-name “aragonite”. The first fan letter that I ever wrote to a Sherlockian author was sent to Marcia, way back in 2008. Over the years, I wisely printed and archived every single one of her stories when it appeared online, and I still maintain them in two massive binders.

She wrote stand-alone short stories, and interconnected vignettes, and whole novels of incredible brilliance. All of these have amazing depth and consistency, both in their descriptions of the Scotland Yarders, and Holmes and Watson as well. Read these and the Yarders are real to you. Her early novels that provide Lestrade’s convoluted history, as well as the narrative of how he meets his wife, are unforgettable. The five novels that tell of what happened in Lestrade and Watson’s lives during The Great Hiatus (The MoonCursers, A Sword for Defense, The Narrow Path, The End of All Things, and A Fanged and Bitter Thing), will absolutely define for the reader what happened over the course of those three tragic and dangerous years, and no other version will ever be good enough once these have been read.

After leaving these stories online for quite a while, Marcia eventually revised and then published some at, and more recently, she’s been in the process of releasing them through MX Publishing. Shown here are her published works (so far), as well as my gigantic binders (assembled over a decade ago) in which all of her other works are collected and saved. I would fight for the honor to be considered her biggest fan, and I’ll confirm to anyone that she has absolutely found Scotland Yard’s Tin Dispatch Box.

Marcia Wilson isn’t the only person who has attempted to chronicle Lestrade’s life beyond his involvement with Sherlock Holmes. M.J. Trow has written seventeen books and a short story about Lestrade – his own unique version of “Sholto” Lestrade, as Trow calls him. In these tales, covering events ranging from 1879 to 1923, Holmes is sometimes presented as a figure of ridicule, although inconsistently during others he’s given more respect. To read them – even though there is much that excellent about them – one must also take a grain of salt – well, multiple grains – and I can’t always accept every one of the books, as I’m a stickler for Holmesian Truth, but others are tolerable . . . .

Another lesser-known examination of Lestrade and the Yarders can be found in a large collection of inter-related fan-fiction stories by the mysteriously named “bemj11”. These owe quite a bit to Marcia Wilson’s narratives, but they do break off in their own direction in other significant ways. Originally a massive number of these were published around 2010 before they abruptly stopped.(In the world of fan-fiction, where information about authors is often impossible to obtain, any knowledge about bemj11 and the reasons for suspending this series for so long is unknown.) Fortunately I collected and saved these stories in the binders shown here, and happily, some updates have recently appeared, promising more to come . . . .

There was an item that briefly appeared on Amazon that was certainly by bemj11 under another similar author name – The Family Thief by B.E.M. Jenkins. Like so many Sherlockian pastiches, I’m glad that I bought it when I did, because it’s long-since vanished . . . .

Inspector Athelney Jones

Lestrade isn’t the only Canonically-mentioned Inspector to get his own narrative. Athelney Jones, the rather buffoonish policeman we first meet in The Sign of the Four, tells us own adventure in Leverett Butts’ The Gypsy Rose and the China Doll. Holmes isn’t represented very well in this one, but then again one must consider that we’re seeing him from Jones’s particular and biased viewpoint. Don’t miss it!

The other narrative concerning Athelney Jones, Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty(2015), is much more problematic. This is the second Holmes-connected adventure brought to us by Horowitz, the first being The House of Silk (2011). Mr. Horowitz is quite confident in his presentation, but his Sherlockian assertions and certainties aren’t always backed by very much actual knowledge of The Canon. When The House of Silk was first published, Horowitz mentioned in several astonishing interviews the astounding and false claim that he was the first to present a new Holmes adventure since the original Literary Agent’s death in 1930. In spite of this, The House of Silk ended up being, for the most part, a tolerable adaptation by Horowitz from Watson’s original notes – after one became used to the arrogant Sherlockian errors in the text. His second effort in this milieu, Moriarty, raised more objections. While I have no doubt that some of the events described within the narrative are accurate, Horowitz’s own adjustments to both Moriarty and Athelney Jones, the two primary characters in the book, display a great deal of pure invention and ignorance.

In fact, it’s doubtful that the policeman in this book is actually Athelney Jones at all. He certainly doesn’t fit the description of the fellow we meet in SIGN. Rather, the story likely involves some other policeman entirely whose name was changed by Horowitz to Athelney Jones simply to aid in reader familiarity. All-in-all, Horowitz’s Moriarty is a perfect example of a wider problem within the world of Sherlockian publishing: It’s a mediocre story at best, but because it was from an old-school publisher, still functioning within the old system, it received a lot of attention that it simply didn’t deserve, and the publishers were able to foist onto the public the ongoing and incorrect belief that there are just a limited number of acceptable Holmes stories out there from what they define as “real” publishers, leaving that same public ignorant that there are many more adventures available to them that are infinitely better and more correct.

Professor Moriarty

Professor Moriarty has been featured in several other series of his own. The best, without doubt, are the incredibly clever and well-written books and short stories by Michael Kurland. I discovered these in the late 1970’s when I was a young teenager, just a few years after I’d found Holmes. I bought the paperback of Kurland’s first Moriarty novel, The Infernal Device, and realized that there was a whole world of ways to learn about Holmes in addition to Watson’s viewpoint. This Moriarty wasn’t quite evil – not yet, anyway – and he and his associates were incredibly fascinating. Sadly, there were only five of Kurland’s Moriarty novels published, and four short stories, before the series apparently went on Hiatus in 2014. In the meantime, I’ve consistently pestered Mr. Kurland to write another Moriarty short story for the ongoing series of anthologies that I edit, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, so there’s still hope.

Kurland’s Moriarty stories are:

The Infernal Device (1978)
Death by Gaslight (1982)
The Great Game (2001)
The Empress of India (2006)
Who Thinks Evil (2014)
Victorian Villainy (2011 – Short stories, including “The Paradol Paradox”,“Years Ago and in a Different Place”, “Reichenbach”, and “The Picture of Oscar Wilde”)

Although there is debate about the exact location, everyone knows that Sherlock Holmes lived in Baker Street. There is less discussion than there should be about where Professor Moriarty lived. Mr. Kurland places the Professor’s address at 64 Russell Square, near the British Museum, and intriguingly just around the corner from No. 24 Montague Street, where Holmes lived in the 1870’s when he first came up to London.

During my three (so far) Holmes Pilgrimages to London and other parts of England and Great Britain, I’ve stayed in the hotel on several occasions that now occupies No. 24 Montague Street, and I’ve also made it a point to seek out Moriarty’s old home – for I believe with certainty that Mr. Kurland’s identification of the address is correct – at least as to location, if not the actual number . . . for No. 64 Russell Square is actually a hotel. Early on, I deduced that in fact the Professor somehow obfuscated the public records, and that he actually lived at 46 Russell Square, just a few hundred feet from where Holmes initially resided, instead of No. 64. I mentioned this to Mr. Kurland, who replied, “I think you’re right and the Professor disguised the true address for obvious reasons.” Here’s a photo of No. 46 Russell Square, taken on my first Holmes Pilgrimage in 2013. It’s the third house from the right, now an organization to enable students to study abroad. (There are three students – not the three students, of course – sitting on the front steps near the automobile, and that’s Montague Street located at the extreme far right.)

John Gardner, most important to me as the man who brought us new James Bond adventures in the 1980's and 1990’s, also wrote three volumes about Professor Moriarty, as based on decoded journals that he’d discovered. The first two books, The Return of Moriarty and The Revenge of Moriarty, appeared in 1974 and 1975 respectively, but the last, simply titled Moriarty, appeared in 2008, one year after Gardner’s death. While billed as novels about the Professor, these are in fact narratives about the Professor’s younger brother, the station master from the west of England, who – to put it far too simplistically – has disguised himself in order to take the professor’s place.

Other Moriarty books include Kim Newman’s fascinating Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’urbervilles (2011) and Clive Brooks’ The Memoirs of Professor Moriarty – Volume I (1990 – Sadly, there was never actually a Volume II.)

Colonel Moran

Colonel Moran, the second most dangerous man in London, and the Professor’s principle assistant, was the narrator of Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles, and he also penned The Moriarty Papers (2011) and The File on Colonel Moran (2011), the latter by way of Vernon Mealor . . . .

Mycroft Holmes

Sherlock Holmes felt that Professor Moriarty was his Dark Side equivalent, but there was another, on the side of the Light, whom Holmes, without modesty, admitted was even smarter than himself – his older brother Mycroft. There have been several different Mycroft Holmes series over the last few decades. It all began with Enter the Lion (1979) by Sean M. Wright and Michael P. Hodel. This was also a title that I found in the late-1970’s days of my early Sherlockian enthusiasm, again showing me that there were other viewpoints besides Watson’s to reveal to us what was happening in Holmes’s world. This was a stand-alone work for many years, but recently Sean Wright has written a couple of new Mycroft short stories, both of which have appeared in recent volumes of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, and there is hope that there will be more of them to follow . . . .

Three really excellent Mycroft Holmes novels were brought forth by Glen Petrie: The Dorking Gap Affair (1989), The Monstrous Regiment (1990), and The Hampstead Poisonings (1995). But there is a fourth book listed out there by Petrie, also from 1995, and I don’t know if it actually exists or not, called The Young Poisoners. Considering the date and the similar title, this is likely alternate presentation of The Hampstead Poisonings, perhaps an original or place-holder title that was registered and never used. The late Phillip K. Jones’ massive pastiche database showed these titles to be the same book. But Jones’ database also shows another Petrie title, Mycroft Holmes and the Versailles Protocol, which he describes as “Mycroft Holmes #01” and indicated that it was “unpublished”. If this one does exist, somewhere out there, then I WANT IT!

Mycroft Holmes’s further adventures, as narrated by his irritating assistant Paterson Guthrie, appeared as four books, published yearly from 1998 to 2000, by “Quinn Fawcett" (the combination of the writing team of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Bill Fawcett): Against The Brotherhood (1997), Embassy Row (1998), The Flying Scotsman (1999), and The Scottish Ploy (2000). These had interesting plots, and they were set in the correct years, without any of the foolish and moronic nonsense that has been grafted onto Mycroft recently in some abominable modernized television shows, but I was never entirely enamored of them. The writing style was rather grating – as if each author was putting down alternating sentences without having read what the other had just written. (“Will there will be another murder?” “My boy, are you wondering if there will be another murder?”) Additionally, there were regular between-chapter segments from the journals of Mycroft’s servant, Tyers, and I initially kept thinking that these would lead to something startling – perhaps a “What-really-happened” revelation at the end – but they were never more than a few regularly placed, tedious, and momentum-destroying paragraphs about the difficulties of obtaining a certain item to cook, or Tyers’ concerns regarding his sick mother.

Sixteen extensive Mycroft Holmes adventures appeared on-line for a number of years, as presented by Sam Bonnamy. Six more Mycroft tales were brought to us by David Dickinson as Kindle titles (The Silver Birches, The Naval Engineer, The Missing Popes, The Banker’s Conclave, Murder at the Diogenes Club, and The Romanov Pearls. Here they are in the binders where I saved and printed them as physical pape copies,instead of ephemeral e-blips . . . .

Maryam Wade has published seven (so far)slim Mycroft adventures through Amazon: The Giant Rat of Folkestone, The Red Leech,The Canary Trainer, The Dark Man, and The Royal Orphan, and Black Moon . . .

There is a more well-known ongoing series about Mycroft currently being brought to the public by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. These three volumes, which began with Mycroft Holmes in 2015, and then Mycroft and Sherlock (2018) and Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage (2019), go back to examine Mycroft’s younger adventures when he was slim and in the process of becoming the man that we see through Watson’s eyes years later. (There’s also a related Graphic Novel which I won’t touch because it’s fully set in an Alternate Universe, and thus has nothing whatsoever to do with Sherlock Holmes.)

Janina Woods has also written two novels about an Alternate Universe Mycroft, where he’s a slim blonde fellow who is a master of deadly Martial Arts, and apparently the Victorian James Bond of the 1890’s British Secret Service:

An incredible look into the mind of Mycroft Holmes has come to us by way of Master Pasticheur Sarah Bennett. She originally wrote, as a very small part of her massive pastiche catalogue, The Secret Diary of Mycroft Holmes, Esq. a fan-fiction novel which was published online under her pen-name Westron Wynde. Then followed later with The Continuing Diary of Mycroft Holmes, Esq: The Hiatus Years. Here are the print-outs of those stories from my collection, kept with all of her other masterpiece pastiches in my three massive Westron Wynde binders:

Later, her first set of Mycroft chronicles, covering events from 1880 to 1888, was revised and published in 2017 by Belanger Books. I anxiously await more of them . . . .

Mrs. Hudson

Another important figure whose activities and adventures have been chronicled in tales beyond The Canon is Mrs. Hudson. Sadly, Sidney Paget never illustrated her, so here’s a photo of her as portrayed by Mary Gordon:

Mrs. Hudson (along with her orphaned assistant Flotsam) has been featured in four books (so far) by Martin Davies – The Spirits’ Curse (2004), The Malabar Rose (2005), The Lazarus Testament (2015), and The Samarkand Conspiracy (2020).

Then there’s Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen (2017) by Wendy Heyman-Marsaw, a mixture of musings and recipes, and more recently Mrs. Hudson Investigates (2019) by Susan Knight, with a series of related adventures:

Next for Mrs. Hudson are the six books by Barry Brown. The premise is simple: It’s Mrs. Hudson who is the true sleuth of Baker Street, rather than Holmes. Through the entire series of books, she leads the way, with Holmes, Watson, and even Mycroft in support. In some ways, these books mimic the scheme of the 1988 film Without a Clue, with Mrs. Hudson as the behind-the-scenes brains instead of Dr. Watson. Still, it’s a very fresh perspective on the Holmesian world. The books are:

The Unpleasantness at Parkerton Manor (2010)
Mrs. Hudson and the Irish Invincibles (2011)
Mrs. Hudson in the Ring (2013)
Mrs. Hudson in New York (2015)
Mrs. Hudson’s Olympic Triumph (2017)
Mrs. Hudson Takes the Stage (2020)

Sidney Hosier wrote four Mrs. Hudson novels – this time giving her the first name “Emma” instead of the more traditionally accepted “Martha”. In these, Mrs. Hudson is again the detective, assisted by her friend Mrs. Violet Warner, Titles include Elementary, Mrs. Hudson (1996), Murder, Mrs. Hudson (1997), The Game’s Afoot, Mrs. Hudson (1998), and Most Baffling, Mrs. Hudson (1998).

Other explorations of Mrs. Hudson as the main character include B.J. Vassar’s A Hudson View (2008), and The Beekeeper’s Friend (2009) . . .

. . . as well as D.T. Galbraith’s Mrs. Hudson (& Sherlock Holmes) (2012), and Mrs. Hudson’s Diaries (2012) by Barry Cryer and Bob Cryer.

Irene Adler

A woman who was only involved in one Canonical Case, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, and only mentioned in three others (“A Case of Identity”, “The Blue Carbuncle”, and “His Last Bow”) exerts a massive amount of influence on The Great Holmes Tapestry. Of course, this person must be Irene Adler

The definitive presentation of Irene can be found in Carole-Nelson Douglas’s eight novels (and five short stories). I’ve tried a few times to convince Ms. Douglas to contribute a new Irene short story to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, because it’s been far too long, and while she did let me have a wonderful poem for one of the first three MX volumes, so far her visits to Irene’s Tin Dispatch Box continue to remain paused.

Ms. Douglas's Irene Adler novels include:

Good Night, Mr. Holmes (1990)
Good Morning, Irene (1991)
Irene at Large (1992 - reissued as A Soul of Steel)
Irene’s Last Waltz (1994 - reissued as Another Scandal in Bohemia)
Chapel Noir (2001)
Castle Rouge(2002)
Femme Fatale (2003)
Spider Dance (2004)

Her Irene short stories are:

• “Parris Greene” (1992) in Malice Domestic 2
• “Dracula on the Rocks” (1995) in Celebrity Vampires
• “The Thief of Twelfth Night” (1996) in Holmes for the Holidays
• “Mesmerizing Bertie” (1998) in Crime Through Time II
• “A Baker Street Irregular” (1998) in Midnight Louie’s Pet Detectives
• “The Private Wife of Sherlock Holmes” (2009) in Sex, Lies, and Private Eyes

In addition to these excellent tales of Holmes and Irene in the 1880’s, Amy Thomas has made us aware of their encounters in Holmes’s later years. These four books (so far) include The Detective and the Woman (2012), The Detective, the Woman, and the Winking Tree (2013), The Detective, the Woman, and the Silent Hive (2014), and The Detective, the Woman, and the Pirate’s Bounty (2019).

Mary Watson

Another Canonical woman, Mary Morstan Watson, is presented in Molly Carr’s The Sign of Fear (2010) and A Study in Crimson (2010) where Watson’s bored wife, assisted by her friend Emily Fanshaw, solve a few mysteries:

The Other Mrs. Watsons

Besides Mary Watson née Morstan, Watson was married two other times. There are several Canonical cases which are set before Watson meets Mary in September 1888, during The Sign of the Four. Who was this other woman – this first Mrs. Watson? Luckily, Holmesian scholar William S. Baring-Gould identified her as Constance Watson. Her existence helps explain a number of chronological inconsistencies within The Canon. Constance and the Good Doctor were married from 1886-1887, before her untimely death due to illness. Watson’s third wife is never named, but he married her in 1902, as implied when Watson moved from Baker Street to Queen Anne Street in fall 1902 (as related in "The Illustrious Client"), and as mentioned in early 1903 when Sherlock Holmes wrote (in “The Blanched Soldier”)

I find from my notebook that it was in January, 1903, just after the conclusion of the Boer War, that I had my visit from Mr. James M. Dodd, a big, fresh, sunburned, upstanding Briton. The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association. I was alone.

Both of these two wives had been featured in many more extra-Canonical stories than can be discussed here – but fortunately I’ve discussed the matter in much greater depth in this blog entry, “Watson’s Wives and A Question of Chronology”:

Dr. Mortimer

In The Hound of the Baskervilles, we met the fascinating Dr. Mortimer. It’s no surprise that he’s been featured in two books of his own, Dr. Mortimer and the Aldgate Mystery (2000) and Dr. Mortimer and the Barking Man Mystery (2001).

In these narratives, Dr. Mortimer is widowed in the late 1880’s, remarries, and then moves to London, where he opens a clinic with his second wife, who is also a physician. In 2003, a third book, Dr. Mortimer and the Carved Head Mystery, was announced, and I pre-ordered it, but it was never actually published. Eventually I contacted the publisher, and they told me that Gerard Williams had died, and that his family had withdrawn the book. So it’s still out there – somewhere – and I’m still hoping for it. If you’re part of Mr. William’s family, or know them, please turn it loose.


There are several characters besides Irene Adler who make very few appearances in the Canon – some in just one story, and others only being mentioned once. One of the most intriguing of these is Baker, another London private detective whom Holmes describes in “The Retired Colourman” as “my hated rival on the Surrey side.” Thankfully, Will Thomas took this slim reference – Barker’s location and his succinctly described appearance – and ran with it. While Thomas never publicly acknowledges that his Barker is the Canonical Barker, take it from me – there is no doubt. This is Barker. Thomas has shown us Barker’s whole world: His office, his residence, his friends, his enemies, and even pieces of his mysterious past – but not all of it, leaving enough for many more revelations in future books. The Barker books (and one novella) are:

Some Danger Involved (2004)
To Kingdom Come (2005)
The Limehouse Text (2006)
The Hellfire Conspiracy (2007)
The Black Hand (2008)
Fatal Enquiry (2014)
Anatomy of Evil(2015)
Hell Bay (2016)
• “An Awkward Way to Die” (2017 - Novella)
Old Scores (2017)
Blood Is Blood (2018)
Lethal Pursuit (2019)

Just reading this list makes me want to read these books again, while looking forward to the next ones. I’ve visited London and various British locations on three separate Holmes Pilgrimages (2013, 2015, and 2016), and each time I essentially only went to Holmes-related sites. I made a few exceptions – Solar Pons’s house at 7B Praed Street, Hercule Poirot’s two residences (14 Farraway Street and Whitehaven Mansions), James Bond’s home in Wellington Square . . . and Cyrus Barker’s office in Craig’s Court. Here’s a photo I posted to Will Thomas live one night from London when my deerstalker and I were standing at the door to Cyrus Barker’s old office:

Francois Le Villard

Another little-mentioned Canonical character is Francois Le Villard of the French Detective Service, who appears in passing in The Sign of the Four. In 1999, Timothy Francis Sheil published a massive pastiche, The Siam Question, in which Le Villard plays an extremely important role. In addition to relating one of Holmes’s missions during The Great Hiatus, this impressive volume also tells what happens immediately after Holmes’s return to London in April 1894, and the additional details regarding his battle at that time with the Professor’s brother, Colonel Moriarty. The book is a huge hardcover, over 600 pages long, bound in faux leather to look as if it is part of a series of Foreign Office documents, compiled by Watson at Mycroft’s request. There was a promised sequel, The Egypt Question, but sadly, it has yet to appear. (The dust jacket says that Mr. Sheil was born in 1948, so he’d best crack on and finish it.)

Victor Trevor

Victor Trevor, one of Holmes’s old school-chums, is only mentioned in “The Gloria Scott”, but he figures in quite a bit of Holmes fan-fiction, and he’s a very important figure, even if he’s often off-stage, in the four novels in A.S. Croyle’s Before Watson series:

When the Song of the Angel is Stilled (2015
The Bird and the Buddha (2016)
The Case of the Swan in the Fog (2017)
The Case of the Three Species (2019)

Each of these, set in the 1870’s, is narrated by Dr. Poppy Stamford, sister of the same Stamford who will eventually introduce Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Watson. Poppy mistakenly believes that she is the only woman that Holmes – in his attempts to be the perfect reasoning machine – will ever love. (If you read enough pastiches, you realize that there were several women who won his heart over the years, but – like Mr. Spock – he suppressed his emotions. It made him a much more interesting fellow than the damaged loveless being that many readers seem to need.) When we meet Poppy, she is Victor Stamford’s fiancé, but over the four books, we see how the lives of these young people change through the years and Croyle has indicated that there may be further Poppy Stamford tales in the future.

Reginald Musgrave

Besides Victor Trevor, The Canon mentions another of Holmes’s old school friends, Reginald Musgrave, of “The Musgrave Ritual” fame. While he has appeared in various extra-Canonical short stories, Musgrave’s most intriguing appearances are in a pair of curious tales by the late George Alec Effinger. In Sherlock Holmes in Orbit (1995) and My Sherlock Holmes (2003), there are two connected narratives, “The Musgrave Version” and “The Adventure of the Celestial Snows” respectively. Each is actually part of a much larger tale, narrated by Reginald Musgrave, regarding his and Holmes’s adventures in the late 1870’s, when both were still at University and suddenly found themselves in a year-long battle with Dr. Fu Manchu. There are rumors that the larger complete story exists, but it remains unpublished after Mr. Effinger died unexpectedly in 2002. If such a whole and complete work is actually out there somewhere, then I would urge that it be published.

There have been a number of other encounters between Holmes and the evil Doctor Fu Manchu over the years in other stories, the absolute best being Ten Years Beyond Baker Street (1984) by Cay Van Ash -

- but these two by Effinger are especially interesting and need to be brought forward in their entirety.

Dr. Verner

In “The Norwood Builder”, Watson explains that he sells his practice and moves back to Baker Street following Holmes’s return to London after The Great Hiatus:

A young doctor, named Verner, had purchased my small Kensington practice, and given with astonishingly little demur the highest price that I ventured to ask – an incident which only explained itself some years later when I found that Verner was a distant relation of Holmes’s, and that it was my friend who had really found the money.

Sam Siciliano has taken this slight reference and brought us seven adventures of Holmes and his cousin, Dr. Henry Vernier – a slightly different spelling, but doubtless the same person. Henry Vernier is quite frankly an irritating narrator. He wouldn’t be so bad, except that his jealousy of Watson literally drips off the page, and it skews any objectivity that we might have otherwise credited to him. He’s an unlikable character. He’s whiny and emasculated. He sometimes gets his facts and dates wrong, and he tells outright fibs. And in terms of his dislike of Watson, he frequently and egregiously states that he, Vernier, is Holmes’s best friend, even erroneously quoting Holmes as saying, “Dr. Watson and I are not quite so close as he has portrayed. In fact, Henry is my preferred companion.” Vernier deludedly believes this fact. It colors his perception so that he is convinced that he is the most involved and important figure in Holmes’s investigations, while Watson is simply a peripheral figure that Holmes tolerates but doesn’t really like, in spite of the thousands of documented cases with Watson – and not Vernier – that prove otherwise. And yet, these are good books – although the most recent volume takes steps to color so far outside the lines that I have to wonder just how far into an Alternate Universe Siciliano is intending to tread.

The first Dr Vernier volume originally appeared in hardcover, and subsequent volumes have all been released in paperback by Titan. They include:

The Angel of the Opera (1994)
The Web Weaver (2012)
The Grimswell Curse (2013)
The White Worm (2016)
The Moonstone’s Curse (2017)
The Devil and the Four (2018)
The Venerable Tiger (2020)

For more about how I’m convinced that it’s Henry Vernier and not John Watson that is the young bespectacled pastry-eater in the film Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), see "Actually, That Wasn’t Watson: Some Notes Eventually Circling In Upon the Major Obfuscation in 'Young Sherlock Holmes'", to be found here in my irregular blog:

[This same essay also appeared in a slightly different form in The Watsonian, Fall 2016, Vol. 4, No. II)

The Baker Street Irregulars

There are more far books about Holmes's Baker Street Irregulars than can be discussed here - which is why I've discussed them in a separate blog entry: "A Consideration of Children in the World of Sherlock Holmes", to be found at:

Other Canonical Figures

There have been several collections where other numerous Canonical figures have been given their own narratives. These include:

My Sherlock Holmes (2003)
Beyond Watson (2016)
Associates of Sherlock Holmes(2016)
Further Associates of Sherlock Holmes (2017)

I’m proud to have a couple of my stories in two of these books. These are "Some Notes Upon the Matter of John Douglas" in Beyond Watson, relating new information about the events of The Valley of Fear by way of Colonel Moran, and “No Good Deed” in Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, as narrated by Canonical character Jim Smith. Jim Smith? you might ask, a puzzled look on your brow. Yes, Jim Smith, the son of Mordecai Smith, the owner of the Aurora, the steamboat in The Sign of the Four. When I was asked to contribute a story to this volume, I didn’t want to just tell another tale featuring Lestrade or Mycroft or Mrs. Hudson or Irene Adler. While I love those and there can never be enough of them – as long as they’re really about the TRUE Lestrade or Mycroft or Mrs. Hudson or Irene Adler and not these modern destructive offensive simulacrums that are lately so prolific – I wanted to think out of the box. And then Jim Smith started whispering his story to me, proving that everyone in The Canon who had an encounter with Mr. Sherlock Holmes has a story to tell – and hopefully and eventually we’ll be able to know all of them.

In conclusion . . . .

One thing I know for sure - there will never be enough stories about the true Mr. Sherlock Holmes and those who knew him, and as long as those stories continue to be told, I'll keep seeking them out!

©David Marcum 2020 – All Rights Reserved


David Marcum plays The Game with deadly seriousness. He first discovered Sherlock Holmes in 1975 at the age of ten, and since that time, he has collected, read, and chronologicized literally thousands of traditional Holmes pastiches in the form of novels, short stories, radio and television episodes, movies and scripts, comics, fan-fiction, and unpublished manuscripts. He is the author of over sixty Sherlockian pastiches, some published in anthologies and magazines such as The Strand, and others collected in his own books, The Papers of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and A Quantity of Debt, and Sherlock Holmes – Tangled Skeins. He has edited over fifty books, including several dozen traditional Sherlockian anthologies, such as the ongoing series The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, which he created in 2015. This collection is now up to 21 volumes, with several more in preparation. He was responsible for bringing back August Derleth’s Solar Pons for a new generation, first with his collection of authorized Pons stories, The Papers of Solar Pons, and then by editing the reissued authorized versions of the original Pons books. He is now doing the same for the adventures of Dr. Thorndyke. He has contributed numerous essays to various publications, and is a member of a number of Sherlockian groups and Scions. He is a licensed Civil Engineer, living in Tennessee with his wife and son. His irregular Sherlockian blog, A Seventeen Step Program, addresses various topics related to his favorite book friends (as his son used to call them when he was small), and can be found at Since the age of nineteen, he has worn a deerstalker as his regular-and-only hat. In 2013, he and his deerstalker were finally able make his first trip-of-a-lifetime Holmes Pilgrimage to England, with return Pilgrimages in 2015 and 2016, where you may have spotted him. If you ever run into him and his deerstalker out and about, feel free to say hello!

His Amazon Author Page can be found at:

and at MX Publishing: