Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, Sherlock Holmes featured in four novels and some fifty-six short stories from the pen of the master story-teller. Doyle died in 1930, but by then Holmes and his faithful companion Dr Watson, who narrates the stories, had taken on lives of their own and had become figures of almost mythical status.
Because readers clamoured for more and more stories about Sherlock Holmes, other writers adopted the well-loved characters and Holmes and Watson have appeared in many films, plays and even musicals! But the pair is most comfortable on the written page and many authors have been tempted to emulate the great originator.
Alas, some authors have let their imaginations run riot and Holmes has been involved with Jack the Ripper, Dracula, the Titanic, and flying saucers to name but a few. He has been placed in modern America, into the future and far into the past; we have been given his schooldays, his biography and various clones. Poor old Holmes has been mangled and distorted to provide fodder for many ludicrous yarns and unbelievable concepts.
However, some authors have sincerely attempted to imitate the authentic Conan Doyle style and many of these tales are credible and entertaining.
The conventions are observed and the author who knows his job will ensure that nothing anachronistic appears in his work. A sense of period is essential if the reader is to find himself comfortably at home in the late Victorian era.
The true joy of these pastiches is to imagine that Sir Arthur has once more taken up his pen and given us a further batch of splendid Sherlock Holmes tales.