Short Story Review: “Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark

2 of 5 stars.

Sherlock Holmes and his faithful counterpart in Dr. Watson come with certain expectations. Watson often tells the tale, as he does here, being the Everyman to Holmes’ mad genius. There’s also a certain expectation on the unriddling of the conundrum at the basis of every Holmes’ tale. Watson, as an educated man, will note many things that the reader may or may not recognize. And, then Holmes will sweep in to solve a case that confounds Scotland Yard and Watson . . . and the reader.

This Holmes tale misses the mark. While the relationship between the Holmes and Watson plays right, and the dialogue sounds particularly Victorian and appropriately antiquated, the “mystery” is short on clues, reasoning and resolution. That the mystery seems to imply a supernatural, ghostly answer is expected. That the answer truly is supernatural breaks the point of Sherlock Holmes making apparent that which is unapparent.

The case: A man descends into the ocean depths in a diving bell to recover treasure. The cables break dooming the diver to a watery grave. Five years later, in a recovery of the recovery equipment, ghostly sounds and voices emanate from the long submerged diving bell. A second diving bell is sent down with two on board. It returns to the surface with both occupants dead of fright . . .

This tale appears in Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


Short Story Review: “The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman

The Case of Death and HoneyThe Case of Death and Honey by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once one of many serialized detectives, Sherlock Holmes has more than withstood the test of time. He has been canonized as a urban folk hero. Many movies and television series have depicted his tales spun by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and others have reinvented him for the modern era. Countless others have drawn inspiration from him.

This tale shows Sherlock himself as an old man in the decades after he’s quit working directly with his cohort Dr. Watson. It launches from a conversation with his even more brilliant brother, Mycroft, at Mycroft’s deathbed. Mycroft both corrects one of Sherlock’s criminal case solutions and challenges Sherlock to solve the ultimate crime of Death. Sherlock takes up the challenge and it leads him to studying bees and honey-making in the English countryside for the next couple decades . . .

Meanwhile, the tale also shows an elderly Chinese apiarist that’s alone after the long ago death of his wife and infant son. His honey has not proven extraordinary, indeed his cousin’s honey from the next valley is much more sought after. However, Old Gao’s wild black mountain bees prove unique if not particularly aggressive and hard to work with.

One day, an elderly white “barbarian” [Sherlock Holmes] comes to Old Gao’s village with a request of working with his unique bees . . .

This moving tale of two old men dealing with familial loss . . . and bees . . . is moving. It’s recommended.

This tale appears in Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations edited by Paula Guran. I’ve previously read Gaiman’s:
     “Black Dog”–3 stars
     “The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories”–3 stars
     “The Sea Change”–4 stars
     [w/ Dave McKean]–Signal to Noise–5 stars
     [w/ Dave McKean]–The Wolves in the Walls–3 stars
[Check out my other reviews here.]