The Lost Casebooks of Sherlock Holmes: Three Volumes of Detection and Suspense

Written by Donald Thomas
Review by Kathryn Johnson

Few fictional characters continue to populate new novels after the demise of their creator-authors. Arthur Conan Doyle attempted (twice) to end the career of his star character, Sherlock Holmes. Once, by arranging his hero’s plunge off the Reichenbach Falls while struggling with his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty. And later, when the author himself died. Both times he failed; the reading public simply wouldn’t allow Holmes to stop investigating. New stories featuring the great fictional detective have continued to appear in book, film, electronic and theatrical forms.

Author Donald Thomas adds to the collection now, by claiming to have uncovered eighteen “lost” accounts penned by Watson. Although the stories’ pacing may feel somewhat slow to today’s reader, and the threats tame in this post-9/11 era of heightened anxiety—the relaxed rhythm of the stories seduces and draws us back into more relaxed times, when real books were meant to be savored at length on a rainy day before a roaring fire. That was how I first met Holmes, and that’s how I prefer to read his stories today—never on a bus or on the run—always seated with a cup of tea on a cloudy day or moonless night, when the imagination is free to conjure up the creak of carriage wheels and pungent whiff of pipe smoke.

The best of Thomas’s stories rival the originals. Personal favorites are “The Case of the Crown Jewels,” “The Case of the Talking Corpse,” and “The Queen of the Night.” As a bonus, in addition to the eighteen new stories, readers are treated to a “Letter to Posterity from John H. Watson, MD.” Lovers of mysteries and Victorian adventure will enjoy stepping again into the gaslight miasma of old London.