Sorting through the various Holmesian pastiches, parodies, and mashups can be often be a challenge - trying to find that almost perfect application of Conan Doyle's style to a mixture of different characters can be daunting.
Several years ago, Neil Gaiman - whose cross-genre work includes Sandman, American Gods, and Neverwhere, and who is receiving major attention for his script for Doctor Who - wrote a Hugo-winning short story that is a fine mixture of strangeness with mystery, and which is (believe it or not) available for your enjoyment via the Internet.
Originally presented in the Shadows Over Baker Street anthology, "A Study in Emerald" (available for download as a PDF via Mr. Gaiman's site) is more than just a near-copy of "A Study in Scarlet"; it is one of the most clever integrations of Holmesian detection and H.P. Lovecraft's "Cthulhu mythos", bringing strangeness and mystery together in a pretty engaging short story.
Unlike many other pastiches, Gaiman is able to mimic Conan Doyle's tone almost perfectly, and there are plenty of Sherlockian references within the story to make this appealing to both lifelong and casual fans. "Emerald" deftly integrates the otherworldly dread of Lovecraft with the canon's Victorian atmosphere, creating a tale that is quite an enjoyable read. The PDF download also contains some clever "advertisements" that contain references to other Victorian-era fantastic literature.
(There is also a clever twist within the tale that....well, much like the advertisements, is best enjoyed by reading the tale and not spoiled within a review).
"A Study in Emerald" may not seem like a major work, but it does what the greatest of canon does - for a few moments, it takes us back to a time where it is still 1895 and which - despite Holmes' advice to the contrary - deftly mixes strangeness and mystery.
With the result being an enjoyable read for Sherlockians and fantasy fans alike.
Editor's note: Gordon regularly covers the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the entertainment industry. You can also find him at Blog THIS, Pal! and Comic Related.
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