8 Books Inspired by the World of Sherlock Holmes
A book list by Onset & Rime.
For anyone who enjoys everything Sherlock, this latest book list is inspired by the World's Foremost Consulting Detective. Some are Sherlock Holmes pastiches, some expand upon the stories of familiar characters, and some are stories with original characters written in the vein of the Sherlock stories.
A Note: Content warnings have been provided where appropriate. Highlight the "invisible" text beside the content warning label to see. Content warnings are not value statements about the books or judgements about the inclusion of any particular content. They are there to give you a heads up on what to be prepared for so you can choose if and/or when a book is right for you.
1) THE HOUSE OF SILK by Anthony Horowitz
As the first Holmes story to be published with the official approval of the Conan Doyle estate, once again, the game is afoot!
From the publisher: “London, 1890. 221B Baker St. A fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap – a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, his home is robbed, his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place.
Almost unwillingly, Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more. And as they dig, they begin to hear the whispered phrase-the House of Silk-a mysterious entity that connects the highest levels of government to the deepest depths of criminality. Holmes begins to fear that he has uncovered a conspiracy that threatens to tear apart the very fabric of society.”
This is the first of two novels that Anthony Horowitz wrote about Sherlock Holmes. The second is Moriarty and can be read as a stand alone.
Genre(s): mystery, historical fiction
Content Warnings: child abuse
2) DUST AND SHADOW by Lyndsay Faye
“From the gritty streets of nineteenth century London, the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson offers a tale unearthed after generations of lore: the harrowing story of Sherlock Holmes’s attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper.”
From the publisher: “As England’s greatest specialist in criminal detection, Sherlock Holmes is unwavering in his quest to capture the killer responsible for terrifying London’s East End. He hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims. When Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel during an attempt to catch the savage monster, the popular press launches an investigation of its own, questioning the great detective’s role in the very crimes he is so fervently struggling to prevent. Stripped of his credibility, Holmes is left with no choice but to break every rule in the desperate race to find the madman known as “the Knife” before it is too late.”
Lyndsay Faye has also written a collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories titled The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes.
Genre(s): mystery, historical fiction
Content Warnings: moderately explicit descriptions of crime scenes
3) MYCROFT HOLMES by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse
“Mycroft Holmes reveals the untold story of Sherlock’s older brother. This harrowing adventure […] set the stage for the man Mycroft would become: founder of the famous Diogenes Club and the hidden power behind the British government.”
From the publisher: “Fresh out of Cambridge University, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name for himself in government, working for the Secretary of State for War. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to the faraway island of Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent, and where his fiancée Georgiana Sutton was raised.
Mycroft’s comfortable existence is overturned when Douglas receives troubling reports from home. There are rumors of mysterious disappearances, strange footprints in the sand, and spirits enticing children to their deaths, their bodies found drained of blood. Upon hearing the news, Georgiana abruptly departs for Trinidad. Near panic, Mycroft convinces Douglas that they should follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take...”
This is the first of three books currently available in the Mycroft Holmes series.
Genre(s): mystery, historical fiction
Content Warnings: racism, slavery, hate crime, death of children
4) THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER by Theodora Goss
“Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this […] is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.”
From the publisher: “Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.
But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.
When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.”
This is the first novel in The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series
Genre(s): mystery, fantasy, historical fiction
Content Warnings: brief descriptions of mutilated bodies, child abuse, sexism, forced institutionalization, animal cruelty
5) SOME DANGER INVOLVED by Will Thomas
“An atmospheric debut novel […] Some Danger Involved introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar.”
From the publisher: “When a student bearing a striking resemblance to artists' renderings of Jesus Christ is found murdered – by crucifixion – in London's Jewish ghetto, 19th-century private detective Barker must hire an assistant to help him solve the sinister case. Out of all who answer an ad for a position with "some danger involved," the eccentric and enigmatic Barker chooses downtrodden Llewelyn, a gutsy young man whose murky past includes recent stints at both an Oxford college and an Oxford prison.
As Llewelyn learns the ropes of his position, he is drawn deeper and deeper into Barker's peculiar world of vigilante detective work, as well as the dark heart of London's teeming underworld. Together they pass through chophouses, stables, and clandestine tea rooms, tangling with the early Italian mafia, a mad professor of eugenics, and other shadowy figures, inching ever closer to the shocking truth behind the murder.”
This is the first novel in the Barker & Llewelyn series.
Genre(s): mystery, historical fiction
Content Warnings: antisemitism, suicidal ideation
6) THE AFFAIR OF THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER by Alexis Hall
“In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters.”
From the publisher: “Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.
When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark. But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas' stock-in-trade.”
Genre(s): mystery, fantasy
Content Warnings: transphobia, violence
7) THE TEA MASTER AND THE DETECTIVE by Aliette de Bodard
“In a galactic empire inspired by Vietnamese culture, a detective and a mindship must team up to solve a mystery. Very loosely inspired by A Study in Scarlet, if Holmes were an eccentric scholar, and Watson a grumpy discharged war mindship.”
From the publisher: “Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars […] A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow's Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study.
When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow's Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow's Child with her. As they dig deep into the victim's past, The Shadow's Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau's own murky past--and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars...”
This is one of several novellas in the Universe of Xuya series. They can be enjoyed in order of publication or as stand-alone stories. The rest of the stories are not Sherlock reimaginings. More information about the universe can be found here.
Genre(s): mystery, sci-fi
Content Warnings: drug abuse/addiction
8) A STUDY IN BRIMSTONE by G.S. Denning
“John Watson's new room-mate is a sorcerer and hiding it poorly. Though he ought to be rebuilding his medical practice and reclaiming his right place in Victorian society, [he] keeps getting swept up in one Warlock Holmes caper after another.”
From the publisher: “Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius who uses the gift of deduction and reason to solve the most vexing of crimes. Warlock Holmes, however, is an idiot. A good man, perhaps; a font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim. Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart flatmate. Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.”
This is the first book in the Warlock Holmes series.
Genre(s): mystery, fantasy, humour