Sherlock Holmes was not the first literary detective in history (that honor goes to C. Auguste Dupin, the detective in Edgar Allan Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue“), but he is without question the most famous. Which naturally has made him the most imitated, parodied, cloned and re-imagined.
So, in honor of the Great Detective’s 125th anniversary this year, here are three of my favorite modern Holmes-inspired books and series.
The Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King—Purists may be horrified, but in this wonderful spin-off series, Mary is first the apprentice, then the wife of the (formerly) misogynistic Holmes. And what a wife! Oxford scholar, ferocious advocate of women’s rights, actress, crack shot and every bit Holmes’ equal in biting repartee. To follow their globetrotting adventures, see this list of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries at DBRL.
“The House of Silk” by Anthony Horowitz—An elderly Dr. Watson narrates a twisted tale of opium smuggling, murder and depravity at the highest levels of English society. Colorful Victorian characters and hairsbreadth escapes abound, and the language is meticulously faithful to the Holmes canon. (Rightly so, since this is the only “fake” Sherlock Holmes novel ever authorized by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate.)
For even more imitation Holmes, try one of these short story collections.
- “Sherlock Holmes: The American Years” and “Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years” edited by Michael Kurland.
- “The Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes” and other Holmes-based short story collections by Donald Thomas.
- “A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon” edited by Laurie R. King.