Is there really a better way to end out a year of book reviews than with Sherlock Holmes? I say nay. Which is why I was excited to find Sherlock Holmes: The Twelve Days of Christmas by Roger Riccard. Twelve short stories fitting enough to join any pastiche and to add to the holiday festivities and rituals of reading Holmes for the Holidays. No more reading just the Blue Carbuncle, there were twelve more Christmas stories!
I enjoyed Riccard’s works nearly as much as I enjoy Conan Doyle’s works. Riccard masterfully fit not only the Great Detective but his friends, family and associates in as well.
Twelve Stories, each title coinciding with the day in the song “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Each and every one a mystery that Conan Doyle never published for Dr. Watson or that Dr. Watson himself just never bothered to send out to the Strand. They involve a clever call back to The Blue Carbuncle in Six Geese at a Gander, Holmes’ attempt to alleviate Watson’s grief of the first Christmas since losing his wife in The Seventh Swann. A Story involving a retired Holmes and the introduction of Lestrade the basset hound in The Five Gold Rings.
There is no set time, much like Conan Doyle’s telling, instead the stories bounce between Christmases that happened from the year of Holmes and Watson’s first meeting to after Holmes had retired and moved to Sussex Downs and everything in between.
What I found extra delightful with these stories is Riccard’s willingness to include other characters beside Holmes and Watson. Mrs. Hudson is given her chance to assist Holmes in a case and visit royalty, Lestrade is given a better ending to his life than other’s expected, merely for being the honest man he was and the “best of a bad lot”. Even Mycroft Holmes is given his due in two stories, forcing him to not only get out of his chair to do “legwork”, but to leave the comfort of the Diogenes Club to interact with people.
But perhaps my favorite of this is Riccard gave Mary (Morstan) Watson three stories in which to shine. The Ninth Ladyship at the Dance, where Mary is able to use her knowledge of languages to help stop an assassination attempt, her empathy and compassion in The Four Caroling Birds where the Baker Street Duo becomes the Baker Street Trio and Holmes happily allows Mary to assist in a case involving Americans and Robert Todd Lincoln, the British Ambassador to the United States. As a fan of Mary Morstan, I was utterly delighted.
And finally, The Three French Henchmen. The story takes place between the years of Sherlock Holmes’ “death” and shows how life without Holmes still carries on. John and Mary Watson, and Mycroft Holmes working together to stop Moriarty’s web from debunking the Great Detective posthumously. This might be my favorite out of all the stories because not only does it show Mary Watson being a woman who knows how to use a weapon, think clearly under stress, use all the skills she learned from Holmes, nostalgic in my smiled at the mention of the “Thompson Twins” as well as Mycroft’s agents, Agent Stephanie Holt and Agent Remington. For those who didn’t grow up in the 80’s, go look up an old TV show called “Remington Steele”, you’ll get it.
The Twelve Days of Christmas is a festive addition to your yearly holiday Holmes readings, and I would heartily suggest picking it up for your enjoyment.
Happy holidays my friends. Enjoy your time with friends and family and at night when the festivities have died down and everyone is in bed, make sure to take some time for yourself, grab a warm covering, an equally warm drink, and curl up with a good book.