Martin H. Greenberg and company have provided a fine collection of Sherlockian holiday stories that fit in quite well with the traditional set.
“The Christmas Gift” by Anne Perry is a nice little piece about a stolen Stradivarius and a couple who want to marry against the wishes of the young lady’s father. There is an excellent red herring, one of the few in this anthology.
In “The Four Wise Men” by Peter Lovesey, Watson must answer a call to duty from his former commanding officer in the Army, in order to help guard a medieval treasure in a Christmas pageant. The game is soon afoot, and Sherlock’s powers of observation are as keen as ever.
Barbara Paul’s “Eleemosynary, My Dear Watson” gives Holmes a jewel theft and a kidnapping to solve, which he does in his inimitable way. One clue seemed slightly too obvious to me, but it may not to other readers.
In “The Adventure of the Greatest Gift” by Loren D. Estleman, Holmes receives a wax cylinder containing a recording of a song popular in America. He takes it as a warning of a crime which could lead to war between Britain and France, and of course he leaps into action. This is Mycroft Holmes’ only appearance in the volume.
There’s plenty of misdirection in “The Case of the Rajah’s Emerald” by Carolyn Wheat. Somehow, though, I suspected one of the great revelations in this one from the beginning, but I couldn’t tell you exactly why. It didn’t ruin the story for me, and there was still a surprise at the end.
On the other hand, Edward D. Hoch’s “The Christmas Conspiracy” managed to take me completely unawares. I couldn’t fathom why the crime would be committed or by whom, despite having a major clue dropped by one character. Very well done!
“The Music of Christmas” by L.B. Greenwood telegraphed the identity of the criminal from the start, but was well worth reading. One of the characters also tugged at the heartstrings.
Bill Crider’s “The Adventure of the Christmas Bear” is largely memorable because of the appearance of Oscar Wilde as a character.
“The Adventure of the Naturalist’s Stock Pin” by Jon L. Breen gives us Charles Darwin as Holmes’ client. The mystery is less Sherlockian than some of the others, but I didn’t mind reading it.
Daniel Stashower’s “The Adventure of the Second Violet” was an interesting twist on a well-known Christmas story. I cannot say more without spoiling it, but he has a nice touch.
“The Human Mystery” by Tanith Lee is as dark as I expect from her, and was a depressing ending to the collection. It was, however, very well-written.
The anthology left me hungry for more Holmes, and wishing that I weren’t between seasons of BBC’s Sherlock or that I had another collection of stories on hand. That’s the sign of a success, I think.