Sherlock Holmes Lives On!

Sherlock Homes, the quintessential detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle, first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in 1887.  Doyle penned four novels and 56 short stories, chronicling the adventures of the great detective as seen though the eyes of the narrator of the Sherlock tales, Doctor John Watson.

Yet, when you go to our catalog and type “Sherlock Holmes” in the search box, much more comes up that just the Arthur Conan Doyle tales.  Sherlock Holmes appears in many new and sometimes surprising stories. One of my new favorites is The Daughter of Sherlock Homes by Leonard S. Goldberg.

It is no secret from the outset of the story that Joanna Blalock, a widow with a ten year old son who looks just the late Sherlock Holmes,  is the daughter of the great detective. The pleasure of this tale is not making that discovery but uncovering a world where the descendants of all the original Conan Doyle characters are living intertwined lives. The son of Inspector Lestrade bumbles his way though a murder investigation. The son of Doctor Watson is at the side of his elderly parent and just as blind to observations and deductions that never escape the sharp eyes of Joanna (whose mother is none other than Irene Adler, the only person to ever get the better of Sherlock Holmes!) Even the offspring of the infamous villains that Holmes faced are present.

I recently wrote a blog post about Enola Homes, the younger sister of Sherlock in Nancy Springer’s clever children’s mystery series. Since then, I have realized that the exploits of Sherlock Holmes did not end with the final Conan Doyle story, and, being a big Holmes fan, I’m glad that the great detective lives on. Here is a small sampling of other incarnations of Sherlock Holmes:

The Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery series by Laurie R. King.
In The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first book in the series, a chance meeting with a Sussex beekeeper turns into a pivotal moment when fifteen-year-old Mary Russell discovers that the beekeeper is the reclusive, retired detective Sherlock Holmes, who soon takes on the role of mentor and teacher.

Sherlock Holmes and the King’s Evil and Other New Adventures of the Great Detective by Donald Thomas.
Five original tales inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic character feature Holmes taking on such challenges as the famed siege of Sydney Street, a planned German invasion of America, and a supernatural curse.

Sherlock Holmes and the Shakespeare Letter by Barry Grant.
Searching through modern London for a stolen letter purportedly written by Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes discovers a plot to arm terrorists and enlists the aid of his roommate, James Wilson, to track the arms dealers to a Scottish castle.

The Perils of Sherlock Holmes by Loren D. Estleman.
A collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and essays, including “Channeling Holmes,” “On the Significance of Boswells,” and “Was Sherlock Holmes The Shadow?” that delve deeper into the world of Sherlock Holmes and the imaginative mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Sherlock Holmes and the Eisendorf Enigma by Larry Millett.
Dogged by depression and—as a trip to the Mayo Clinic has revealed—emphysema, 66-year-old Sherlock Holmes is preparing to return to England when he receives a shock: a note slipped under his hotel room door, from a vicious murderer he’d nearly captured in Munich in 1892.

Sherlock Holmes’ Younger Sister

Did you know that Sherlock Holmes has a younger sister? Me, either, until I encountered the amazing Enola Holmes.

Author Nancy Springer has written an intriguing children’s series about the exploits of Enola, a girl left on her own on her fourteenth birthday when her mother walks out of the house and disappears. Once her two much older older brothers Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, learn what has happened, they decide that the best thing would be to place Enola into a boarding school.

The free-spirited Enola has other ideas. Her mother has left behind codes and clues, leading Enola to hidden stashes of money. Once she has enough, she slips away and travels on her own to London, where she turns her talents to becoming a perditorian, a finder of the lost. Having mastered the art of disguise, Enola manages to stay two steps ahead of Sherlock and Mycroft while solving crimes in London.

I confess, I love reading children’s books. This series in particular is entertaining for adults as well as kids because it is not over-simplified. Enola frequently uses terms such as “proboscis”  and “perditorian” and the solutions to the mysteries are not obvious. London’s social rules are humorously and sometimes  poignantly viewed through the eyes of Enola, who often is outraged at the restrictions society places on women. The darker, crueler side of London is also depicted in sobering scenes of poverty, filth, crime, and disease.

It was also announced this year that Millie Bobby Brown (of “Stranger Things” fame) will be starring in a film series based on the Enola Holmes series.

Kids will love the clever Enola, who can disguise her self so well, she often walks right past her two older brothers without them even recognizing her! Adults will delight in Enola’s interactions with her brother Sherlock, which are written with wit and humor. As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I greatly enjoyed this portrayal of the world’s most famous fictional detective. He genuinely cares for what he views as his wayward sister and comes to respect her intelligence and courage. He and Enola have some very amusing adventures before the ending of the series.

There are six titles in all, and I wish there were more. Highly recommended for all readers interested in mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, and Victorian London.

Classic Spinoffs

Have you read any classic books? Even if you haven’t, you can still enjoy the books on this list. These are inspired by classics as they tell the stories of supporting characters, are prequels or sequels to the classic stories, or even retell the classics themselves. Read them all!

gertrudeandclaudius Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike  
This prequel to Hamlet tells the story of Gertrude Queen of Denmark before the action of Shakespeare’s Hamlet begins. Updike brings to life Gertrude’s girlhood as the daughter of King Rorik, her arranged marriage to the man who becomes King Hamlet, and her middle-aged affair with her husband’s younger brother.

 

MadameBovarysDaughter Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach
This continuation of Flaubert’s classic Madame Bovary finds twelve-year-old Berthe cast off by society in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide and sent to live with her impoverished grandmother, from where she eventually rises through the ranks of Charles Worth’s famed fashion empire.

 

thebeekeepersapprentice The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King   
In 1914, a young woman named Mary Russell meets a retired beekeeper on the Sussex Downs. His name is Sherlock Holmes. The Great Detective is no fool, and can spot a fellow intellect even in a fifteen-year-old woman. So, at first informally, then consciously, he takes Mary as his apprentice.

 

julietsnurseJuliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen   
A new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse. In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappelletti’s darkest secrets.

ruthsjourney Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig
A prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

 

revenge Revenge by Stephen Fry  
This brilliant recasting of the classic story The Count of Monte Cristo centers on Ned Maddstone, a happy, charismatic, Oxford-bound seventeen-year-old whose rosy future is virtually pre-ordained. Handsome, confident, and talented, newly in love with bright, beautiful Portia, his father an influential MP, Ned leads a charmed life. But privilege makes him an easy target for envy, and in the course of one day Ned’s destiny is forever altered.

thehistorian The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
A woman discovers that the past of her family is connected to the stories of Vlad the Impaler, the man who inspired Dracula and must decide whether to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

 

deankoontzfrankenstein Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son
This is a retelling of Frankenstein set in New Orleans. In the 19th century, Dr. Victor Frankenstein brought his first creation to life, but a horrible turn of events forced him to abandon his creation and fall away from the public eye. Now, two centuries later, a serial killer is on the loose in New Orleans, and he’s salvaging body parts from each of his victims, as if he’s trying to create the perfect person. But the two detectives assigned to the case are about to discover that something far more sinister is going on…

widesargassosea Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys  
Jean Rhys brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane EyreSet in the Caribbean, its heroine is Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Rochester. In this best-selling novel, Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

monsignorquixote Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
When Father Quixote, a local priest of the Spanish village of El Toboso who claims ancestry to Cervantes’ fictional Don Quixote, is elevated to the rank of monsignor through a clerical error, he sets out on a journey to Madrid to purchase purple socks appropriate to his new station. Accompanying him on his mission is his best friend, Sancho, the Communist ex-mayor of the village who argues politics and religion with Quixote and rescues him from the various troubles his innocence lands him in along the way.

There are many, many more books that are inspired by the classics. Sometimes even classics are inspired by other classics! What are your favorite classic spinoffs?