What Are Your Favourite Pastiches?

No review today… sometimes you just don’t have time to read!

Instead of a review, though, I thought I might pose a question to our wonderful Watsonian community!

What are your favourite pastiches?  Do you have ones that you just love?  Ones that you read when you first discovered Holmes and Watson that have stuck with you through the years?  Ones that strike you as particularly ‘true’ or any that ring false but you love them anyway?  Let us know!

We’d also LOVE to see some SH shelfies!  What does your Sherlock Holmes bookshelf look like?  Is it neat?  Do you embrace a minimalist aesthetic?  Is it cluttered and overflowing?  Do you despair because you need MORE shelves still to fit it all?  Post shelfies (pictures of your shelves!) either in the comments, or tweet them at us @JHWatsonSoc!  Use the hashtag #SHshelfie, if possible, so we can be sure to browse and admire accordingly!

I’ll have a new review soon (I have an ARC of Sherry Thomas’ “A Conspiracy in Belgravia” that I’m working my through; copies of Rohase Piercy’s “My Dearest Holmes” and the companion novel “A Case of Domestic Pilfering”; the middle grade book “Lock and Key” by the author of “Peter and the Starcatcher”, Ridley Pearson; and at least three other books that I need to get to!).  Thanks for your patience, and I look forward to seeing those shelfies!

14 Replies to “What Are Your Favourite Pastiches?”

  1. Lindsay Faye and Bonnie Macbird are my current big name favorites. I have also really had fun with the recent Warlock Holmes books and was just talking to my friend yesterday about how great the collection 221 Baker Streets is. Also, a shout out to MX, who put out a lot of great collections. I am up for any pastiche that is about a clever Holmes and faithful Watson having a mysterious adventure.

    1. Ooo, Lyndsay Faye is definitely one of my favs, too! I haven’t actually read any Bonnie Macbird yet; I’m hoping to get a copy of her next book shortly after it comes out, especially since she’s a Watsonian!

  2. I quit reading them years ago. I never found one that I particularly liked–they all seemed so forced. This may have more to do with my attitude and preconceived ideas than the actual texts.

    However, with all the praise I hear (from all points) for Faye and Macbird, perhaps it is time for me to try again.

    1. While I have struggled to read the recent bestsellers–“Dust and Shadow” was very, very good, Abdul-Jabbar’s “Mycroft Holmes” was well-written but ultimately not very Sherlockian, “House of Silk” is still unopened on my shelf–like you Margie, I have basically quit reading them. Bad Doyle is, in general, superior to good pastiche.

      1. I highly recommend Faye’s short stories, which were collected as THE WHOLE ART OF DETECTION last year. MYCROFT HOLMES was better than I expected (perhaps damning with faint praise). I read HOUSE OF SILK because I got the sequel as part of the Mysterious Bookshop’s historical mystery club… and I still haven’t brought myself to read that second book.

        1. “I quit reading them years ago. I never found one that I particularly liked–they all seemed so forced. This may have more to do with my attitude and preconceived ideas than the actual texts.”

          I did not quit reading, but I find increasingly difficult to find a “good” pastiche. There are many well-written ones, but I find most of them soulless. Just another take on the Victorian setting, sometimes with acceptable style and prose, but often without an interesting plot, and just plain boring.
          There are of course notable exceptions. “Dust and Shadow” is excellent and Faye’s short stories are also very good. Among the “classics”, the six stories written in cooperation by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr are top quality stuff. “The West End Horror” by Nicholas Meyer is quite good, and so is Ellery Queen’s “A Study in Terror”.
          But I must admit that I find “experimental” pastiches most satisfying. They can be absolutely awful when they lose touch with the spirit of the Canon and are not faithful to the soul of the main characters. On the other side, when they succeed, they offer a new, fresh and interesting take on the Canon from some completely new viewpoint.
          So I love Neil Gaiman’s “A study in Emerald Green” (a Holmes/Chtulhu myths crossover) , Robert J, Sawyer’s “You see but you do not observe” (a science fiction story with an emotional ending), Kim Newman’s “The Hound of the d’Urbervilles” (the funniest Holmes thing I’ve ever read), Gillian Linscott’s “A Hansom for Mr. Holmes” (another comedy story) and Lyndsay Faye’s “The Gospel of Sheba” (not included in her last collection, a story told in first person by Lomax, the sub-librarian of ILLU).
          There may be others, but the overwhelming amount of pastiches published nowadays makes it increasingly more difficult to sift the mass of the raw material in search for that small gold nugget.

  3. I don’t care much for most pastiches, but I am a huge fan of Nick Meyer’s The Seven Per Cent Solution. While differing from the Canon in many respects, it builds on the characters of Holmes and Watson in a way that rings true. Secondly, this book, and its movie version, are significantly responsible for the renaissance of Sherlockiana that has taken place since the doldrums of the ’60s and early ’70s. Every present day Sherlockian owes a real debt to Nick Meyer.

  4. Lyndsay Faye’s DUST AND SHADOW is my favorite, although her new collection might beat it out. The novel vs. short story format is so tough to compare, though! I love the way DUST AND SHADOW draws the story out, but I also love being immersed in case after case. Tough choice.

    I also love the collections that Les Klinger and Laure R. King have put together. I like that they wander in and out of the traditional “pastiche” definition and are more like Holmes-flavored stories.

  5. I can’t send a “shelfie”since my collection has been disbursed. For anyone interested and close to Ann Arbor, MI, you can find the best items from my collection in the Parker Family Arthur Conan Doyle Collection in the Graduate Library of the University of Michigan.

    1. That’s a pretty good reason why! (I’m near-ish to Ann Arbor… and I am working on a research project… maybe I’ll be seeing your collection soon!)

      1. Thanks. I hope you find the collection useful. It contains items from my Sherlockian library and my cousin’s Doylean/Sherlockian library.

  6. I’m an incredibly omnivorous pastiche reader; I know some people outgrow pastiches (I read two essays just this past weekend where Holmesians explained their origin stories, and both said they eventually stopped reading pastiches, in fact!), but I never quite have. I’m usually willing to try anything, at least for a while!

    Let’s see, favourite pastiches… like most everyone else on this thread, I adore Lyndsay Faye’s works. I think they do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the original while not being afraid to step outside the framework of them and challenge the characters a bit.

    In terms of other classical pastiches, I like June Thomson’s collections. They’re a bit dryer, and at times formulaic, but they work really hard to adhere to the original short stories. I also seem to recall enjoying Carole Bugge’s books, but it’s been so long since I’ve read them that I can’t remember specifics. I also think that David Marcum’s collections through MX are well curated, with some really strong authors and stories among them.

    In terms of pastiches that don’t necessarily follow the classic formats… well! I confess a fondness for books that allow other characters to shine, and so Michelle Birkby’s Mrs. Hudson series (which allows Holmes and Watson to retain their intelligence even while focusing on Mrs Hudson and Mary!), Marcia Wilson’s Yarder series (another where Holmes and Watson still get to be extraordinary, but allows the Yarders to be good and competent as well), and Carole Nelson Douglas’ Irene Adler series (giving Irene her own story separate from Holmes!) are all ones I thoroughly enjoy.

    But then, I’m an improper Holmesian in so many ways… I also cherish the Enola Holmes series and the Mary Russell series and so many others! I think it’s interesting to see how different pastiche authors interpret the original text and what aspects of the characters they hold onto the closest, and which they give a backseat.

  7. My favorite pastiches are mostly fanfic, which I read before I got to any formally published adaptations. I love the endless variety of characterization and settings (both those attending to the source work canon – whether ACD or adaptation – and those that veer wildly and improbably into alternative elsewheres while still engaging that original spark of Watson & Holmes).

    I’m not going to recommend any particular fanworks, but some Watsonians might appreciate the More Holmes collection, which makes it easier to find fic based on pastiches and adaptations that are NOT the “big five” (ACD, BBC Sherlock, Elementary, House MD, Ritchie movies).


  8. I’m late to the party, but if I can throw in my two cents:

    I read a *lot* of pastiches, though I agree with those like “Reggie” who struggle to find ones that really capture the spirit of Watson, Holmes, & ACD — pastiches that don’t just seem to be going by the numbers, and instead do something special in plot or characterization.

    Lyndsay Faye does a great job of getting her own version of ACD’s voice on the page. I particularly like her short story collection, where she takes the same big heart that Holmes has in Canon and simply displays it a skosh more overtly.

    But I am also a huge fan of James Lovegrove’s pastiches. There’s a fantastic shot of pulp in many of his genre-mashing offerings, and some I find a bit more engaging than others. The Stuff of Nightmares, for instance, was good wacky fun, but a bit over-the-top even for me. But his Gods of War, which puts Holmes and Watson on the eve of WWI, is one of my all-time favorites. His Holmes can occasionally be a little too brusque, and his Watson is not always brave as his Canon counterpart — but the characterization still works for me.

    I also *adored* the first in Lovegrove’s Cthulu trilogy mash-up, “The Shadwell Shadows.” (You have to like genre-mashing to enjoy these, but hey — Holmes and Watson have always fought the shadows; now they’re just going about it a bit more overtly.) This one is probably the most enjoyable of the Sherlock Holmes alternate-universe stories that I’ve ever read; I highly recommend it if you can stand a bit of pulp in your offerings.

    Cavan Scott also wrote a neat look at an older Holmes and Watson in The Patchwork Devil. It’s another genre-masher, but most of said mashing doesn’t happen till the end — and I *really* like how much character development he gives our two heroes. He just came out with a second book I’m looking forward to reading.

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