The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Peerless Peer by Philip Jose Farmer
|The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Peerless Peer by Philip Jose Farmer|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A cheeky but cinematic little addition to the Holmes oeuvre, revisiting a universe where he and Watson could - and did - meet just about anyone...|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 139||Date: June 2011|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
It's World War One, and Britain has got wind of some brilliant scientific research, that has created a new bacterial weapon capable of wiping out the world's supply of sauerkraut. But a dastardly German has stolen the formula. Before he can give a variant based on boiled meat, cabbage and potatoes to the kaiser, his most recent nemesis - Sherlock Holmes, no less - must be brought out of beekeeping retirement. Cue an adventure and a half, as he and Watson take to the skies for the first time in their hectic lives, end up in darkest Africa, and encounter a certain yodelling, long-haired nobleman, more than up to the name of King of the Jungle...
Titan have a blitz of new Holmes books for our delectation, covering ground walked upon by many authors previously adding to Watson's oeuvre of Holmesian adventures. Philip Jose Farmer got there first, however, with a lifetime's worth of metafiction, with heroes and other characters from genre classics all combining in unlikely ways - a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen before they were even thought of. This title was first out in the mid-'70s, and it and Titan's line make for a happy marriage.
True, Farmer can't write in echt Victorian English, but successfully explains why the duo sound more modern, up-to-date, slangy, and American. His is a very witty Watson too, and made me laugh several times. I'm sure I was supposed to laugh at Holmes' own cutting remarks spoken against Watson (well, the detective is missing his shag) but I didn't. It also feels unbalanced at times between what the duo are supposed to be doing and what they find when they get there, but that's mostly down to the fun Farmer has and gives while controlling his fuller universe at the same time as producing a nigh-joyous romp on its own.
It's unfortunate it's such a short story - scratch that above about an adventure and a half, it's nearer the half - but it is very entertaining. Titan pad it out with copious extracts and adverts for their other new Holmes books, but also more details from a Farmer collaborator who proves how encyclopedic the whole kit and caboodle got to be, before PJF died in 2009. But for those turning to this for an exclusive Holmes story it is still worth investigating. It's very droll yet respectful, adventuresome yet authentic, pulpy yet very clever. Despite some probable raised eyebrows about aspects (and cast-list) of this book among purists, I doubt if Conan Doyle's ghost, reading this in this day and age, would be objecting at all. As for the other titles in the list I can't as yet tell, but would be eager to try, and am now expecting a very high standard.
I must thank the publishers for sending the Bookbag a review copy.
More, even shorter, unofficial Holmes tales can be found with The Lost Stories... by Tony Reynolds.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Peerless Peer by Philip Jose Farmer at Amazon.com.
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