Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Review! (Yay!) - alt.sherlock.holmes

Title: alt.sherlock.holmes

Author: Gini Koch, Jamie Wyman, Glen Mehn

Genre: Anthology, Novellas/Short Stories, Crime, Contemporary*, Historical Fiction*, LGBTQ+*, M/M* (*one or more stories.)

Amazon: UK - USA

Individual Novellas:

The Case of the Tattoed Bride (UK - US)
A Study in Starlets (UK - US)
The Power of Media (UK - US)

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley from the publishers Abaddon, an imprint of Rebellion. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
I'm a fan of pretty much anything Sherlock-Holmes-related, so when I got the chance to read this collection of alternative takes on Holmes & Watson, I was there.


A Scandal in Hobohemia (and) The Case of the Tattooed Bride by Jamie Wyman
Sanford 'Crash' Haus (this story's version of Sherlock,) is the owner of a travelling carnival in 1930s dustbowl-America.
Fate throws him together with Jim Walker (John Watson,) a black amputee war-veteran, who also happens to be one hell of a doctor.

All the Single Ladies (and) A Study in Starlets by Gini Koch
Murder and reality shows bring together Dr John Watson with Ms Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective with the LAPD.
Will Southern California ever be the same?

Half There/All There (and) The Power of Media by Glen Mehn

This Sherlock is hanging out with some very interesting people - Andy Warhol's hangers-on, to be exact, and their drug-dealer, Dr John 'Doc' Watson.

But Sherlock is bored - and decides to find some cases to occupy his time. 

Best bits:

A Scandal in Hobohemia (and) The Case of the Tattooed Bride by Jamie Wyman

I really loved the romance between Jim Walker (this story's John Watson,) and Mrs Hudson - it was sweet but not overly, and gave a nice sub-plot to the whole thing.

I also liked that Jim was a black man in 1930s America - along with all the prejudice that comes with that, despite being a wounded war veteran.

Jim's the narrator here, and never lets himself be pigeon-holed as a victim.

I also love the careful balance of the PTSD elements - a realistic struggle, but not something which overwhelms Jim's whole life.

The 1930s circus/carnival (not entirely sure which,) setting gave it all a slightly Carnevale (UK - US) vibe, which I kind of loved.

All the Single Ladies (and) A Study in Starlets by Gini Koch

I think this was the scenario where Sherlock seemed most like Sherlock - despite being a woman instead of the traditional male role.

She's clever, cutting, but also occasionally playful.

She has a strong edge to her which just spoke totally of Sherlock Holmes to me - determined and non-nonsense; as far as I'm concerned she rocks.

I liked the part-showbiz setting, and the title of 'A Study in Starlets,' is just fantastic ;)

Half There/All There (and) The Power of Media by Glen Mehn

I really liked the prose here in particular - it was incredibly well-written and was quite beautiful in places.

I also loved the Holmes/Watson relationship dynamic here - totally made sense, and was believable and sweet t'boot :)

Plus there was always the sense that everything interweaved with everything else in this one, even if not directly, which gave it a really unique vibe.

Hard to explain it really, but I liked it, whatever it was.

I liked that this novella tried to deal with the racial tensions, and the issues faced by LGBTQ+ people in the 1960s - unfortunately it maybe didn't always get the balance right.

Not so great bits:

There's various instances of violence and swearing throughout the collection, which won't be to everyone's taste.

A Scandal in Hobohemia (and) The Case of the Tattooed Bride by Jamie Wyman

There were moments when I felt that things just didn't quite gel together with this take on Holmes.

I'm not sure why exactly - maybe it was just trying to achieve too much in too short a time, but this made it seem a little jumpy and incoherent in places.

Also, it kept switching from a circus to a carnival, and I'm like: which is it?!

I felt like maybe we could've done with a stronger show of Sanford (this version's Sherlock,) or 'Crash,' and his general character.

He didn't seem all that detailed, character-wise, and, to me at least, I would've liked some more depth.

That's a personal thing though, and I think a lot of people will be happy enough with Wyman's portrayal.

All the Single Ladies (and) A Study in Starlets by Gini Koch

There were moments here where the prose seemed to drag a bit. It wasn't too bad, but it did slow me down in places.

Largely speaking it zipped along, there was just the odd moment where the prose slowed down a little too much for my liking.

Also, occasionally Sherlock acts like a bit of a douche - but then, the character always has been a bit of a douche. (In the best possible way.)

Half There/All There (and) The Power of Media by Glen Mehn

I wasn't too thrilled by all the casual-drug-taking here. In places, it felt like it was a little too normalised, and that's not great. *Shrugs.*

I was also a little confused by the 1960s references in places - I'm not from New York in the '60s, you may have to explain a little more. Just saying.

Also, if the author could've dialogue-tagged the speech a little more? Explained who was talking and when? That would've been great.

I did feel a little uncomfortable with the way some of the racial and LGBTQ+ issues were dealt with.

Referring to LGBTQ+ people as 'homos,' for example, may be historically accurate (i.e. for the 1960s,) but it doesn't feel right to a 21st Century mind-frame.

It's highly uncomfortable - at best.


I really enjoyed this collection overall.

Each one of the interpretations somehow managed to bring a freshness to a story that's been told time and time again (and very well at that.)

Sure, there were hiccups here and there, but largely speaking? An enjoyable read.

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  1. I do love my Sherlock Holmes as well so I can understand why this one appealed to you so much. I'm thinking about this one but I'm not sure yet.


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