Book Review: The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes


The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a short story anthology I read during the month of November, but did not get a chance to review due to the NaNo-frenzy.

The point of the collection comes from one of Holmes’ famous quotes, “If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The bulk of the stories ask, what if you couldn’t necessarily eliminate the impossible? There are alternate universes, potential alien encounters, Cthulhu appearances, shape-shifters, and many more fantastical elements. Not all of them are outrageous, but some even give Sherlock Holmes pause.

Overall, I loved it. Some stories were great, while others were only good. I didn’t hate any. Because there are so many included in the anthology, I’m going to review the most memorable, and try to keep each to few sentences. We’ll see how that goes!

The Doctor’s Case” by Stephen King

This is a classic locked-room mystery, where a lord is murdered and it could only be one of his family members, but they’ve all given each other alibis. It’s a traditional Holmsian tale, which I like, and in typical Stephen King fashion it is well-executed.

“The Horror of the Many Faces” by Tim Lebbon

This one is particularly memorable because it begins with Watson watching Holmes murder someone in an alley. Then, there are a LOT of bugs.

“The Case of the Bloodless Sock” by Anne Perry

This is a great Moriarty tale. He’s always been touted as Holmes’ greatest villain, yet they only met twice. We now see what a creeper he is, and why Holmes is so set on taking him down.

“Mrs. Hudson’s Case” by Laurie R. King

I’d never read anything by this author, who has explored Holmes’ retirement–if you can call it that–as a beekeeper. I’ve been interested by the notion, but hadn’t actually read any of it. I’ve always thought Mrs. Hudson was an interesting character. She’s Holmes’ landlady, yet she also is essentially his housekeeper. She leaves to join him in retirement, to keep his house as well. I thought she could be a good character to explore. This is a solid story.

“The Specter of Tullyfane Abbey” by Peter Tremayne

I really enjoyed this story, as it explores an early case of Sherlock Holmes while he was still at university. He meets Moriarty, and he has been in love. We see a somewhat unsure and impulsive Holmes, with echoes of the grown detective we know and admire.

“The Adventure of the Lost World” by Dominic Green

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the book The Lost World in 1912, which had to do with a section of the Amazon which remains populated by dinosaurs. Well, what if one made it to London? Sherlock Holmes would take the case!

A Study in Emerald” by Neil Gaiman

This may have been my favorite story, as it looks at Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s first meeting, but in a different world–a world taken over by the demons of Cthulhu. It’s amazing!

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