The Annals of Sherlock Holmes
This is Paul Gilbert’s third book of Sherlock Holmes pastiche, consisting of three long short stories (or novellas as he terms them) narrated, like the originals, by his famous assistant, Dr Watson. Gilbert is very good at this. He writes stately Victorian prose, with long, carefully crafted sentences which beautifully convey Conan Doyle’s mix of artificiality and realism; absurd stories set in a real world, where one almost smells the coal smoke of the stream trains and hears the hiss of the gas lamps.
Personally I feel uncomfortable with pastiche, especially when it involves slavishly imitating a long-dead author. But, just as Conan Doyle failed to kill off Sherlock Holmes in his lifetime, being forced by his public and his publishers to resurrect him after his duel with Moriarty, so Holmes stubbornly refuses to die even after Doyle’s own death. I am not a Holmes fan, but if I were I am not certain whether I would be outraged or in love with this last instalment of his adventures.