Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Sherlock Holmes in a Flash

Title: Sherlock Holmes in a Flash
Editor: Stephen Abbott
Publisher: Abbott Epublishing
Price: $2.49
Reviewed by: Emily Veinglory

Writing pastiche is an act of hubris, but that does not make it a bad thing.  A bold thing, certainly--and particularly sad and tawdry when it fails.  HOLMES IN A FLASH, as it happens, fails on pretty much every level.

A full 7 of the 14 stories are by one author: George Polley.  All of these stories are, in my opinion, dismally bad.  I am baffled by them both individually and as a group because they lack style, characterisation and plot.  Nothing of note happens in any of them as Holmes and Watson have a series of conversations in which simple cases are described as being easily solved, often without Holmes' direct participation.

The best of a bad lot are two short vignettes by Alice Wright, the first of which--Cliff-Side Musing--has a flash of pathos.  In common with the rest of the stories, Wright's works lack any kind of plot, but her prose is descriptive and evocative.  The rest of this collection pretty much blurs into a melange of disappointment, lacking a single clever deduction or novel twist.  None of the stories demonstrates the pithy intensity or flash fiction, reading instead as isolated scenes or excerpts.

The one story that is pretty much guaranteed to be worth reading is Conan Doyle's own "How Watson Learned the Trick."  Most Sherlock Holmes fans will already know this story, but for those who don't--the editor ruins the slight twist ending by disclosing it in his introduction. Clocking in at around 15000 words in total this anthology was, at least, a quick read.

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