Observations by gaslight Stories from the world of Sherlock Holmes

Lyndsay Faye

Book - 2021

"A new collection of Sherlockian tales that shows the Great Detective and his partner, Watson, as their acquaintances saw them"--

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Historical fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Short stories
New York : The Mysterious Press [2021]
Main Author
Lyndsay Faye (author, -)
First edition
Physical Description
xii, 295 pages ; 24 cm
  • The adventure of the stopped clocks / Irene Adler
  • The song of a want / Henry Wiggins
  • Our common correspondent / Geoffrey Lestrade
  • The river of silence / Stanley Hopkins
  • The gospel of Sheba / A. Davenport Lomax
  • A life well lived / Martha Hudson.
Review by Booklist Review

Sherlock Holmes scholarship has evolved. We know those stories aren't about Holmes. They're about Watson observing Holmes. That leaves intriguing gaps. Did other eyes see things the doctor didn't? Might they bring solutions to some of the enduring puzzles? Why did Holmes lock up Watson's checkbook? Did Watson's narratives suppress Holmes' comic side for "image" reasons? Faye approaches answers by placing six people who saw the Master up close in detective stories of their own. Some of these views make us question the nature of reality. Irene Adler, "the woman" to Holmes, records him saying "dear me" and "so very tedious." Inspector Lestrade, ever Holmes' straight man, is visited by a hungover Holmes seeking advice on a wedding. Imagine that! Lomax, from "The Illustrious Client," witnesses Holmes and Watson bickering like an old married couple. Stanley Hopkins, the one Scotland Yarder whom Holmes didn't think was a dunderhead, provokes a dazzling display of deduction. He and landlady Martha Hudson come closest to showing us new sides to Holmes, noting his "affected languor," his constant performing, and, yes, his "good heart." Tasty speculation for Sherlockians.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this impressive collection of six stories depicting Sherlock Holmes from perspectives other than Watson's from Edgar finalist Faye (The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes), Faye draws on not only obvious canonical supporting characters like Mrs. Hudson but also lesser-known ones, including Baker Street Irregular Henry Wiggins, Scotland Yarder Stanley Hopkins, and A. Davenport Lomax, a librarian given just the briefest mention by Conan Doyle. As with her traditional pastiches, Faye pushes the envelope judiciously, providing depth to the iconic sleuth without transforming him beyond recognition. For example, "The Adventure of the Stopped Clocks," narrated by Irene Adler, the one woman who bested Holmes, fleshes out his admiration for her intellect, and explores the impact on the sleuth of Watson's marriage and move out of Baker Street, all within the context of an ingenious take on an untold case centered on why all the clocks in a man's home have stopped. And "Our Common Correspondent" gives Inspector Lestrade a moving backstory that also touches on the evolving Holmes-Watson dynamic. Nuance, wit, and clever plotting make this a superior version of George Mann's Associates of Sherlock Holmes anthologies. Sherlockians will clamor for a sequel. Agent: Erin Malone, WME. (Dec.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

In the tradition of other Sherlock Holmes anthologies, "editor" Faye (The King of Infinite Space) reports the discovery of a cache of letters and papers found in a long-abandoned safety deposit box. She claims to have put them in order as they seemed fitting, in a time frame that extends from 1878 to 1903. Six acquaintances of Holmes and Watson relate stories that reveal more about the personalities of the detecting pair. One letter is from Henry Wiggins, now a young solicitor in London. Wiggins led the group of street urchins who made up the Baker Street Irregulars; he writes of his first meeting with a disguised Sherlock Holmes, and their search for Henry's missing best friend. Irene Adler tells of one more adventure with Holmes, whom she now considers a friend. Chief Inspector Geoffrey Lestrade formed a reluctant friendship with the independent consulting detective, after revealing the reason he joined the police force. Even Mrs. Hudson, the landlady at 221B Baker Street, has a chance to reveal her fondness for "the boys." VERDICT Told in epistolary style, through letters and diary entries, this engaging anthology offers a sympathetic view of Sherlock Holmes. Faye's voice and knowledge of the original stories will appeal to fans.--Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Veteran Sherlock-ian Faye returns to Victorian London with six tales whose principal novelty is their variety of narrators. The indispensable narrator, of course, is opera singer Irene Adler, who gets the most memorable story. The journal and scrapbook entries collected in "The Adventure of the Stopped Clocks" show her rising concern over a dubious stock trade involving her husband Godfrey's two brothers, whose entanglement with "Baron" Dickie Maupertuis leads her to consult her adversary-turned-ally Holmes. Henry Wiggins, the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars, recalls his first encounter with Holmes concerning his fears about Dr. Vincent Manvers, the self-proclaimed Lullaby Doctor whose designs on the neighborhood children in "The Song of a Want" are genuinely creepy. Inspector Geoffrey Lestrade, troubled by the abuse his sister suffered at the hands of her husband, forms a reluctant partnership with Holmes to solve the mystery of "Our Common Correspondent," and Holmes takes the more fresh-minted and eager Inspector Stanley Hopkins under his wing to reveal the disappointingly anticlimactic source of the dismembered arm washed up in a teak box in "The River of Silence." Holmes and Watson's landlady, Martha Hudson, adds surprising revelations about the pair's economic arrangements when Watson's ailing cousin Edward upends their household in the not very mysterious "A Life Well Lived." The most obscure narrator is A. Davenport Lomax, the sublibrarian Watson consulted in "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" without ever allowing him to speak, who brings to Holmes' attention a truly poisonous text in "The Gospel of Sheba." Faye's straight-faced editorial apparatus--a brief "Note From the Editor," an Introduction by Henry Wiggins, now a London solicitor, and extensive "About the Contributors"--rounds the collection off in high style. Meat and drink for fans of the Canon of the Sacred Writings. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.