Erica’s Literary Obsession: Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes is my literary catnip. Tell me that a story has even the most tenuous connection to the residents of 221B Baker Street, and I will dive for my library card faster than you can say, “Elementary, my dear Erica.” While I’ve read Doyle’s original stories more than once, these days I’m enjoying retellings – fresh takes on familiar tales. If you, too, are a fan of Holmes & Watson, the library has got you covered – from board books for small detectives to video games to hot-off-the-presses anthologies, we have Sherlock stories for every age and interest. Here are a few of my favorites:

Children’s:
For tween readers, THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS by Nancy Springer is the first in a series following Sherlock’s younger sister, Enola Holmes. She’s just as smart as her big brother but even more devious. Tracy Barrett’s THE 100-YEAR-OLD SECRET tells the story of Sherlock’s great-great-great grandchildren, who discover his casebook of unsolved crimes and set out to finish his work.

Teens will devour Brittany Cavallaro’s smart, edgy contemporary retelling, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE. Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson meet at boarding school, aware of their families’ intertwined past but not – at least initially – on friendly terms. When Holmes and Watson are implicated in another student’s murder, they reluctantly team up to clear their names. If your teen prefers historical fiction, Colleen Gleason’s THE CLOCKWORK SCARAB follows the adventures of Holmes’ niece Mina and Bram Stoker’s sister Evaline in Victorian London.

Are you longing for a Sherlockian family movie night? Try THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, featuring Basil of Baker Street. This Disney film is a classic for a reason – great songs, adorable mice with British accents, and the villainous Ratigan make it a perennial favorite. If you’re feeling more adventurous, check out SHERLOCK HOUND – a Japanese animated series set in a steampunk version of London populated almost entirely by talking dogs. (I know it sounds weird, but many of the episodes were directed by Hiyayo Miyazaki, of Studio Ghibli fame.)

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Adults:
This winter, I read all fourteen of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, starting with THE BEEKEPER’S APPRENTICE. The books follow an ostensibly-retired Holmes and his apprentice Mary Russell around the globe, solving mysteries in the post-WWI era and beyond. If you’d prefer something more modern, Michael Robertson’s THE BAKER STREET LETTERS features siblings who, thanks to a quirk of their lease at 221B, are required to answer any letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes – which naturally draws them into mystery after mystery. A STUDY IN SILKS, by Emma Jane Holloway, is a steampunk take on Sherlock’s niece.

My current favorite, however, is Sherry Thomas’s A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN – a sly, suspenseful, and funny gender-flipped story, where a Victoria- era Charlotte Holmes, ruined by a scandal of her own making, convinces the world that Sherlock Holmes is a reclusive but brilliant detective. The deception allows her to solve crimes and earn a living in a time where gently-bred women were rarely allowed to do either. The fun of the story – aside from the prickly-but-charming heroine, delightful writing and devious plotting – comes from watching how Thomas makes a familiar world fresh again, reimagining Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade – as well as other elements of the canon. (Bonus points for the slow-burn romance that never eclipses the mystery.)

When it comes to our Adult DVD Collection, there’s no shortage of choices, including:

  • ELEMENTARY: A modern-day crime procedural set in New York, where Watson – Sherlock’s “sober companion” as he recovers from addiction – is played by Lucy Liu.
  • SHERLOCK: The BBC blockbuster that made Benedict Cumberbatch a household name.
  • Classic Sherlock films – both the Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone versions.

This is only the tip of the Sherlockian iceberg, of course. If none of these titles strike your fancy, simply search the library’s catalog for “Sherlock Holmes” – or stop by the reference desk, and we’ll be happy to help you find the perfect story.

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