cover image Sherlock Holmes—The Baker Street Archive

Sherlock Holmes—The Baker Street Archive

Mark Mower. MX Publishing, $12.95 trade paper (178p) ISBN 978-1-804240-44-1

Mower ably emulates Conan Doyle in his solid fifth pastiche collection (after 2021’s Sherlock Holmes—The Baker Street Epilogue). Two of the six stories stand out as worthy of the best pasticheurs. In “The Neckar Reawakening,” the detective travels to Sussex after a 15-year-old maid is found drowned in a pond. The chief constable suspects foul play, as six months earlier a young woman died in the same place and the same way, wearing a similar necklace with a mermaid charm attached. That fatality was ruled a suicide despite the coroner’s unusual choice not to conduct a postmortem, and the locals link the deaths to the legend of a water monster known as the Neckar. “The Misadventure of the Norfolk Poacher,” in which a former Baker Street Irregular is charged with killing a poacher, highlights Holmes’s deductive reasoning grounded in an observation of subtle clues. On the other hand, “A Diplomatic Affair,” centered on Holmes’s decoding of a newspaper ad suggesting a threat to the prime minister, and “The Case of the SS Bokhara,” set when Watson believed Holmes had perished at Reichenbach, fall short of the promise of their openings. Pastiche fans will welcome more from Mower. (Oct.)