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Sherlock Holmes: The American Years
Edited by Michael Kurland
Review by Don Metzler
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312378462
Date: 02 February 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The blades were flashing silver in the stage lights, and to come anywhere near them was to risk serious injury. Though Holmes was clearly a skilled swordsman, Nate’s rage had turned him into a madman, and he sliced and jabbed with the fury of a man fighting to the death. It was all Holmes could do to stave off his vicious attack, parrying each thrust with an alert desperation.
This scene, described for the reader by the famed nineteenth century actor Edwin Booth, climaxes the story "The Curse of Edwin Booth", one of ten excellent short stories that comprise the volume Sherlock Holmes, The American Years.

Sherlock Holmes, The American Years is another release of stories from a literary group of Holmes enthusiasts who believe that the legend of the celebrated British detective should not have been allowed to grow stagnant with the passing (in 1930) of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Fresh stories of Holmes' exploits have been published numerous times over the years, and this newest collection will be a delight for all fans of the Baker Street detective.

As an aside, these stories are much truer to the spirit of Conan Doyle's original narratives than is the somewhat disappointing cinematic version of Sherlock Holmes that is currently playing in a movie house near you. Hollywood, with its penchant for loud noises, shocking images and incendiary devices, strayed way off the mark when it comes to capturing the spirit and essence of the character that Conan Doyle created.

But the ten stories that comprise this collection are all very much on the mark.

The premise of these stories is that during the formulative years of his twenties, a number of years prior to Holmes achieving notoriety as a deductive genius, he had paid an extended visit to the United States. And during this visit, he was occasionally thrust into situations that called upon his burgeoning powers of reason, presaging his future career.

And if these tales are to be believed, during that visit Sherlock Holmes made contact with a number of interesting historical figures of the day. In addition to Edwin Booth, there are also first person narratives from the pens of Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. Prominent characters in other stories include showman P.T. Barnum and Dr. Joseph Bell, the real-life personality on whom it is said that Conan Doyle based his Sherlock Holmes character.

A very thick volume entitled The Complete Sherlock Holmes, which includes every story and novel that Conan Doyle ever published about the illustrious detective, has been a fixture on my own bookshelf since I was a teenager. So anything new concerning Holmes is always a welcome treat. The stories contained in Sherlock Holmes, The American Years are fun reading, and ring true to the legend that Conan Doyle created.

Good stories that should be required reading for all fans of Sherlock Holmes.

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