Sunday, January 29, 2017
The Case of the Disapppearing Passenger, by Jonathan Turner,
Boy. Where to start with this one?
I am on the record as not being a fan of fan fiction, where people just write yet another story about Sherlock Holmes, or another novel about the characters of a dead author.
I feel differently about pastiches, where someone rethinks a familiar character or plot and does something different with it. (Hey, I've done that myself.)
And this one falls in between the stools, you might say. Jonathan Turner has used (with permission) Steve Hockensmith's characters Old Red and Big Red Amlingmeyer, and combined them with Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
If you aren't familiar with the Amlingmeyer brothers, they are cowboys around the turn of the century. Old Red is illiterate but is a huge fan of Holmes and wants to be a detective, and he's good at it. Big Red is the narrator, as witty as his brother is grumpy. They have appeared in several short stories and five novels. (And I have illustrated one above, rather than using the cover of the same EQMM two weeks in a row.)
This story takes place not long after the most recent (but I hope not last) novel in the series. The first half is a letter from Big Red to Holmes explaining a case the brothers encountered in New York, which ends with the villain escaping on a ship to London (as Old Red deduces). The second half consists of Holmes and Watson figuring out which passenger is the bad guy.
If I were Hockensmith I'd be surprised and maybe a little nervous about the uncanny way Turner captures the voices of my characters - better than he did Conan Doyle's, I think. Here is an example. (Gus is another name for Old Red. His brother is talking to King Brady.)
"Enjoying things ain't what you'd call Gus's strong suit," I told him. "You may be the King of the New York dicks, but he's the Ace of Curmudgeons."
"That makes you the Jack of Asses," Gus retorted.
A lot of fun.