If Lyndsay Faye’s byline weren’t on the cover, readers might deduce that the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in “The Whole Art of Detection” actually came from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Her 15 short stories expertly re-create the style and substance of the originals in every way.
These “lost” Holmes and Watson adventures are clever and exciting. And while the tales are altogether new, they also feel immediately familiar.
That’s because “The Whole Art of Detection” is the work of a lifelong fan.
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“I have read the original stories countless times,” says Faye, who’s best known for 2016’s “Jane Steele,” in which she re-imagined Bronte’s Jane Eyre as a serial killer. “When the canon [four Holmes novels and 56 short stories] wasn’t enough, I read as many of the pastiches as I possibly could.
“I’ve gotten to the point that, when reading the pastiches, if someone’s trying to emulate Dr. Watson’s voice and they don’t quite get it right, I can determine what’s wrong within two paragraphs.”
Faye was reading one such story several years ago when inspiration struck.
“I had picked up a new paperback of Sherlock Holmes,” she recalls, “and I started critiquing it in my head. Then I thought, ‘If I’m so smart, why don’t I write one myself? Isn’t it time I put up or shut up?’ ”
Her debut novel, 2009’s “Dust and Shadow,” sent Holmes in pursuit of Jack the Ripper. Then she tried the short-story format. “The Case of Colonel Warburton’s Madness” (the first tale in the new book) appeared in a “Sherlock Holmes in America” anthology. Then came a series of stories in Strand Magazine.
They’re all fun and faithful to the source material, but two in particular absolutely soar:
One is “The Adventure of the Honest Wife,” in which a contemptible client insists that Holmes investigate his cheating wife (although our hero has a completely different agenda when taking the case).
In the other, “The Adventure of the Memento Mori,” a woman held captive and hidden away sends Holmes a cryptic letter begging him to find her. But where in all of England shall he start?
The Whole Art of Detection
- By Lyndsay Faye
- Mysterious Press, $25