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10 Books for Sherlock Holmes Fans
By Jessica Ferri
There are plenty of books for Sherlockians (it's a real term), who know that the mark of a great mystery novel is when its solution is far from elementary. Here's my favorite books for Sherlock Holmes fans
We can never get enough Sherlock Holmes. (Even though there are nearly 60 original Holmes short stories and four novels, not to mention the many television and film adaptations.)
Thanks to the enterprising work of mystery writers and die-hard Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans, there are plenty of books for Sherlockians (it's a real term), who know that the mark of a great mystery novel is when its solution is far from elementary.
1. The Hound of the Baskervilles
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Any Sherlock Holmes fan will know it's worth going back to the beginning when analyzing a problem.
Rediscover The Hound of the Baskervilles -- the third of the crime novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes which launched the detective from popular character to international icon.
Originally serialised in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin. Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson investigate the case.
This was the first appearance of Holmes since his apparent death in "The Final Problem", and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character's eventual revival.
The mystery of the death of Sir Charles Baskerville is now widely considered one of the top English novels, and scholars have given it a 100 rating, making it the #1 Holmes novel of all time.
2. The Dark Water: The Strange Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
Author David Pine takes readers through the fictional world of Arthur Conan Doyle -- the famous detective's creator.
Sherlock is based on Doyle's friend, Dr. Joseph Bell, and this story follows Doyle and Bell as they encounter all sorts of Victorian criminals in this addictive, eerie mystery.
In a literary tour de force worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, author David Pirie brings his rich familiarity with both the Doyle biography and the Sherlock Holmes canon to a mystifying Victorian tale of vengeance and villainy. The howling man on the heath, a gothic asylum, the walking dead, the legendary witch of Dunwich -- perils lurk in every turn of the page throughout this ingenious novel, as increasingly bizarre encounters challenge the deductive powers of young Doyle and his mentor, the pioneering criminal investigator Dr. Joseph Bell.
David Pirie is the author of two other critically praised novels featuring Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Patient's Eyes" and "The Night Calls."
Set in 1920's New York City, this dazzling literary thriller combines pulse-racing action, a cast of famous historical characters, a brilliantly deranged serial killer, and visits from beyond the grave.
In this murder mystery pastiche by William Hjortsberg, Sherlock Holmes teams up with Harry Houdini and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe -- yes, you read that right -- to solve a series of murders perpetrated by a copycat serial killer imitating the work of the long dead Poe.
Holmes fans with a healthy love of the paranormal will devour this modern homage that brings together three icons of the strange and unusual.
4. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
A die-hard Sherlock Holmes fan himself, Vincent Starrett was the author of several Holmes -- inspired books, including his most famous: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.
Long considered one of the benchmark works of Holmesian scholarship, this richly informative biography of the great fictional detective was first published in 1933. Dr. Julian Wolff, revered Commissionaire of the Baker Street Irregulars, call this "the greatest book about Sherlock Holmes ever written."
Written as a fictional biography of Holmes, this book gives fans a further look into the Holmes case files -- lovingly recorded by his trusty assistant Dr. Watson.
5. The Nine Tailors
Dorothy L. Sayers
British mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers is best remembered for her Holmesian creation, amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey.
A typical "gentleman detective," Wimsey solves crimes for fun, and is assisted by his former valet Mervyn Bunter.
In the ninth novel in the Wimsey series, Wimsey and Bunter find themselves thrown into an epic murder mystery when they take a wrong turn in East Anglia. Though at first charmed by the unique traditions of this small English town, Wimsey and Bunter's hopes for a relaxing weekend in the country are quickly dashed.
The Nine Tailors is Dorothy L. Sayers's finest mystery and a classic of the genre.
6. The Moonstone
Generally considered the first ever English detective novel, Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone" greatly influenced Arthur Conan Doyle and his creation of Sherlock Holmes.
Published in installments in 1868, The Moonstone tells the story of a precious yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her 18th birthday. Though it is said to bring bad luck to its owner, the bauble is nevertheless stolen from Rachel's bedroom that very night. Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime. He soon realizes that no one in Rachel's household is above suspicion. Sergeant Cuff must decipher who the thief is in this mystery that anticipates both Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie's novels.
Hailed by T. S. Eliot as "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels," The Moonstone is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear.
7. Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express -- the most famous Hercule Poirot mystery -- has the brilliant detective hunting for a killer aboard one of the world's most luxurious passenger trains.
Agatha Christie's 1932 classic take on one of the 20th century's most infamous crimes, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, solidified the success of Christie's creation: Detective Hercule Poirot, perhaps the most well known fictional detective after Sherlock Holmes.
"I was still writing in the Sherlock Holmes tradition," Chrisite explained in her autobiography on the creation of Poirot. "Eccentric detective, stooge assistant, with a Lestrade-type Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Jap."
Like Holmes, Poirot went on to international fame and is the only fictional character to receive an obituary in The New York Times.
8. Dust and Shadow
Holmes takes on perhaps the most infamous unsolved mystery in this historical fiction novel by Lyndsay Faye.
From the gritty streets of nineteenth century London, the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson offers this tale unearthed after generations of lore: the harrowing story of Sherlock Holmes's attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper.
As the Ripper rages on through London's Whitechapel district, Holmes finds that even he is out of his depth, especially when his trusty sidekick Watson is wounded in the fray.
A masterly re-creation of history's most diabolical villain, Lyndsay Faye's book brings unparalleled authenticity to the atmosphere of Whitechapel and London in the fledgling days of tabloid journalism and recalls the ideals evinced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most beloved and world-renowned characters.
Jack the Ripper's identity, still hotly debated around the world more than a century after his crimes were committed, remains a mystery ripe for speculation. Dust and Shadow explores the terrifying prospect of tracking a serial killer without the advantage of modern forensics, and the result is a lightning-paced novel brimming with historical detail that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
9. Arthur and George
George Edalji was the half-Indian son of a vicar, who found himself convicted of a crime he did not commit in 1903.
Thanks to the efforts of Arthur Conan Doyle, Edalji was pardoned in 1907. Barnes' Arthur and George is a fictional account of these very different men and the unusual circumstances in which their lives intersected.
Though, as a novelist, Barnes only adheres loosely to the facts of the case, it undoubtedly had an impact on Doyle's interest in the wrongfully accused and gives us a glimpse into his somewhat tumultuous private life.
10. The Final Solution
Holmes was said to have taken up beekeeping when he retired from sleuthing, and that's where we find him in Michael Chabon's novel, The Final Solution -- an unnamed 89-year-old man (who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes) biding his time in the English countryside during WWII.
Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot.
What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out -- a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts? Or do they hold a significance both more prosaic and far more sinister?
This detective may need to put his skills back to work to discover the origins of this strange boy and his pet that keeps repeating numbers in some strange German code. Though the solution may be beyond even the reach of the once-famous sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is subtly revealed in a wrenching resolution.
This story was originally featured on The-Line-Up.com.
Book Reviews: "10 Books for Sherlock Holmes Fans"