Further Adventures
Search for "Sherlock Holmes" on any internet bookseller's site, and thousands upon thousands of titles will appear. Since Conan Doyle's time, writers have been tempted to create their own tales using Holmes as inspiration. Every Holmes is different. Some authors concentrate upon Holmes's drug addiction or have him meet a famous historical figure (Nicolas Meyer's The Seven-Percent Solution does both). Some focus on his relationship with Watson, while others invent a lady-friend for him or choose a female acquaintance from the books to be his paramour. Sometimes Moriarty returns, sometimes Holmes's brother Mycroft. Occasionally Holmes acquires offspring. In the past two years alone, at least two dozen novels or short story collections have come out, not to mention several new editions of the original works.

Here are some recent fictional treatments: Caleb Carr's The Italian Secretary (Carroll & Graf, 2005) takes Holmes and Watson into the realm of the supernatural. In Mitch Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind (Nan A. Talese, 2005), Holmes is in his nineties and has become rather forgetful. Laurie King's series (published by Bantam) portrays an aging, but still vital, Holmes and his young wife. Thos. Kent Miller in The Great Detective at the Crucible of Life (Wildside Press, 2005) involves Holmes in a Rider Haggard story in Africa, and Sherlock Holmes and the Search for Excalibur (Authorhouse, 2005) winds up a trilogy by Luke Steven Fullenkamp in which Holmes and Moriarty seek the famous sword. (If that seems far-fetched, consider this: in a 1958 short story called "The Martian Crown Jewels," science-fiction author Poul Anderson sent Holmes to Mars.) Some authors focus on Mrs. Hudson, Holmes and Watson's faithful landlady, or on other minor characters. Others stay busy figuring out what Holmes did during those years between "The Final Problem" and "The Empty House," when Watson thought him dead.

For those who want to return to the source, a new version of the original writings is now available: The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes has come out in three volumes, two for the short stories and a third for the novels. It is edited by Leslie S. Klinger and published by Norton. One caveat: the notes and commentary all play "the Grand Game," and assume that Holmes and Watson were real people.

The Grand Game
What do we really know about Holmes? Who is he? Where was he born, who were his parents, where did he go to school? Is he English? French? American? These questions are irrelevant, you might argue, because we know that Holmes is a literary character, not a real person. A large group of dedicated people from all over the world might not agree. They call themselves Sherlockians, and they play at "the Grand Game," according to which Holmes and Watson are real people and Conan Doyle is their rather incompetent literary agent.

In 1912, Ronald A. Knox, a detective-story writer and Catholic priest, wrote an article called "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes," in which he satirized the ponderous jargon of literary criticism. The article's assumption that Sherlock Holmes was a real person caught the fancy of writer and editor Christopher Morley, who formed a Sherlockian club called the Baker Street Irregulars that continues to meet today. Their website can be found here: www.bakerstreetjournal.com. Other Sherlockian societies with their own publications also exist and can be found on the web.

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