Hello my lovely nerds!
I finally, finally got around to reading one of my Sherlock Adjacent books! Sounds terrible to classify something like that, I know, especially when this book is written about characters that aren’t given great shakes in ACD’s Sherlock stories, but that is honestly a sub-genre of literature for me, and one that I love.
So, The House at Baker Street. First of all, I’m gonna come right out and say that this book was friggin’ great. It was a buddy read with my friend Roz from @seventyeight.sundays over on Instagram, and you should very much check our her account because she is awesome, and even though it took us approximately two hundred years to get around to reading it, it was totally worth the wait.
First of all, a badass Mrs. Hudson? Check. A badass Mary Watson? Check. Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson chillin’ and operating with Irene Adler?! Check!! But honestly, the way this book wrote characters true to the Victorian age and attitudes while still in keeping with the Holmesian detective novel was just incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It also posed a very interesting question: what happens with the cases that are refused by the Great Detective? What of those individuals who, to Holmes, don’t have cases interesting enough for him to pursue?
More importantly, I was also kept guessing quite ’til the last minute. I genuinely hadn’t the foggiest notion of the identity of the criminal until the precise moment the author decided to let us know, and that was very reminiscent of the original Holmes stories. I won’t say that Birkby is on the same level as ACD, because I’ve only read one of her books and quite frankly I revere the Sherlock body of literature produced by Arthur Conan Doyle, but she is a very good contemporary writer or Sherlock Adjacent literature. Plus I just really, really enjoyed the fact that this series (and this is the first book in a series!) focuses on the women from the Sherlockian oeuvre. Different plot threads were pursued separately and then woven in neatly at the end, and there wasn’t any struggle to do so as there so often is when complex narratives are attempted.
Well worth a read, people.
Image credits: my photos, of my copy of the book.