The collection is called Sherlock’s Home, The Empty House and contains stories and poems written by Sherlock Holmes fans and selected from more than 300 entries. There is now a competition running on the Save Undershaw website in which people can vote for their favourite. Charlie Milverton is doing really well, but so far, Distraction by Ariane DeVere is way out in front. You can vote here.
The winner gets their story read out and recorded by Holmes actor Nick Briggs (he plays Holmes in the Big Finish audio series and is also the voice of the Daleks on Doctor Who).
Whichever way the voting goes, the real winner is the Save Undershaw Campaign because the book has raised so much awareness for this worthwhile mission to save the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Everyone needs to be talking about Undershaw and the shameful way planning laws almost robbed us of this wonderful, historic house. This competition has certainly got people talking and votes are starting to flood in. Though my fingers are firmly crossed for my own story, here’s a break-down of my favourites from the collection:
I really love The Doll and his Maker by Patrick Kincaid. When I last checked it didn’t have any votes which is a big surprise as I think it is a very well-written and imaginative story with great characterisation. The heroine is feisty, clever and has a surprising link to Sherlock Holmes. Her deductions are spot-on too. I think this story contains some of the best attempts at Holmesian-style analysis in the book.
The case of the Crystal Blue Bottle by Luke Benjamen Kuhns is a good attempt at a traditional Holmes pastiche with deductions, crime and intrigue. I believe Mr Kuhns has a novel coming out this year so that’s one to look out for.
A Leap of Faith is set in the present day and features another strong female lead. She’s a psychic, of sorts, but insists that she isn’t – ‘I don’t know how I know the things I know sometimes. I just do’. The complete antithesis of Holmes and his methods but this sets up a nice contrast in the story and is well-developed.
And yes, Distraction is great and really made me smile – a massive well-done to its author for leading the way in the voting at this stage.
As to my own story, well of course I can’t possibly comment on how good it is or isn’t – that’s for others to decide. It was inspired by how the BBC Sherlock team have taken things from the original Sherlock Holmes stories and updated them for the 21st century. I wanted to try doing the same and Charles Augustus Milverton seemed like the perfect character to do this with.
So in my short story, Charlie Milverton is an ex-tabloid editor who sells gossip about celebrities (rather than a Victorian master blackmailer threatening rich debutants). And I felt a bit guilty about not doing much with Inspector Lestrade in Barefoot, so I decided to give him his own adventure in this tale. I had great fun writing it, especially as it was so different to Barefoot, and whatever happens in the voting, it’s been fantastic to be part of such a worthwhile book and campaign. Go Undershaw!