Title: The Only One in the World: A Sherlock Holmes Anthology
Author: Narelle M Harris (editor)
Publisher: Clandestine Press
Published: 15th April 2021
Price: $39.95 ($29.95 paperback)
Synopsis: What if Sherlock Holmes was Polish? What if he or John Watson were Indian or Irish or Australian or Japanese? How would their worlds look if one or both was from a completely different background?
In The Only One in the World, we asked a baker’s dozen of writers to answer these questions, and the marvelous results are adventures in Ancient Egypt, Viking Iceland, and 17th century England; in 19th century Ireland, Germany, and Poland; in South Africa of the 1970s and New Orleans of the 1920s; and in contemporary Australia, USA, Russia, India and Portugal.
The stories and contributors taking a new look at our old friends, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, include:
- The Affair of the Purloined Rentboy by Greg Herren
- S.H.E.R.L.O.C.K. by Atlin Merrick
- The Path of Truth by Jack Fennell
- Sharaku Homura and the Heart of Iron by Jason Franks
- The Adventure of the Disappearing Village by Natalie Conyer
- The Saga of the Hidden Treasure by Kerry Greenwood and David Greagg
- The Problem of the Lying Author by Lisa Fessler
- Mistress Islet and the General’s Son by Lucy Sussex
- A Scandalous Case of Poisoning by Katya de Becerra
- The Adventure of the Fated Homecoming by Jayantika Ganguly
- Prince Ha-mahes and the Adventure of the Stoned Mason by LJM Owen
- The Enemy Within by Raymond Gates
- A Study in Lavender by JM Redmann
Sherlock Holmes has been reimagined in many ways over the years in film, movies and stories. He’s been shifted from Victorian London to modern London, or from Victorian London to modern day New York. Other amateur detectives like Phryne Fisher have been inspired by him, and he has been given life in so many ways, that everyone will have their favourite incarnation. In this short story collection, Narelle M Harris has asked writers from all walks of life to imagine Sherlock Holmes as something other than English – he could be Polish, Irish, a robot, another gender …the sky was the limit! And these authors met the brief extremely well, taking Sherlock across the world and through time, ensuring that each setting was unique and captured the essence of the Sherlockian intrigue and ideas, as well as the diversity of our world now and throughout history to tell compelling mysteries, using the concept of Sherlock Holmes.
Because these stories traverse time and space, the stories are exciting and fresh, breathing new life into a beloved character who can be imagined in so many ways. Sherlock and Watson appear in many incarnations, and in some stories, it is their first meeting – a way to set up their partnership, and sometimes the partnership is well-established. I found it tricky to choose a favourite story, though I am quite partial to Ancient Egypt, so I was drawn to L.J.M Owen’s Prince Ha-mahes and the Adventure of the Stoned Mason – and was thrilled to see it had a bit of a link to the third in her Dr Pimms series, Egyptian Enigma. The story set during apartheid South Africa highlighted many levels of inequality, as many of the stories did, be it gender, race or sexuality, as a few of the stories had LGBTQIA+ characters and interpretations that worked well, and that were simply manifestations of two famous characters that could easily sit alongside the canon stories and characters, giving all readers and fans of Sherlock Holmes a chance to see themselves represented.
The crimes and mysteries varied depending on the setting, and the myriad of crimes explores the different ways society has dealt with the things that life throws at them, and how people in different times coped with uncovering the truth. It allows the characters to be themselves against the backdrop of crime and mystery, and the themes are universal – people, issues and feelings that can be found anywhere, but are often dealt with in quite different methods and manners, depending on what the story and the overarching mystery calls for. The mysteries are explored using classic Sherlockian techniques that are relevant to the time each individual story is set in, and explores the way that these characters also interact with their individual worlds, times and places an d the idea that the human condition is a universal experience – we all feel and experience lots of similar things, just in different ways on an individual level.
What this collection of short stories does is opens up a new way of looking at crime fiction and Sherlock Holmes for readers. It is one of those intriguing and fun books that is delightful for all to read and one that will be thoroughly enjoyed.