“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable characters in Western literature. Conan Doyle’s inimitable detective has been the subject of literally thousands of books, movies, television shows, plays and even songs. With the rise of the BBC series and the release of all copyrights, the beloved character has found a new life among modern audiences.
In An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most terrifying adventures. A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages.
Curl up with a warm cuppa and leave all the lights on. This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes.
Wanna sneak peek? Here’s an excerpt from my own story (and first ever mystery tale), “The Fairy Pool:”
Watson packed his case with grim determination, preparing for an outing to the countryside as if for a bivouac through the wilds of Afghanistan. But the most perilous frontier to be crossed was the front parlor of his own London lodging where his accustomed adversary lay in wait.
“Watson, where are you going?” The ambush came as he’d expected from the dim recesses of Holmes’ library, a shout through the open door.
“I told you.” He placed his case by the door and went calmly to the cupboard for his overcoat and hat. “Mary and I are going to visit an old school chum of hers in the country.”
Sherlock popped out of the library like a jack from a box. “It’s a lie.”
“It is not.” Watson smiled the mild smile of the righteous man. “Why should I lie?”
“Well done, John.” His friend’s color was high and dramatic. Either he had already imbibed some chemical stimulant at nine in the morning or the mere fact of John’s leaving had sent him into the first stages of frenzy on its own. “For once, you’ve hit upon the crux of the question without prompting. Why indeed?” John removed the train tickets from his pocket, and Sherlock snatched them from his hand. “Ravenglass,” he read.
“In the Lake District,” John said, taking them back. “Mary’s friend Seraphima grew up there. It’s meant to be quite lovely.”
“In summer perhaps.” The great detective was obviously unconvinced. “In October it will be a miserable bog. And really, John, Seraphima? Is that the limit of your invention? Seraphima is the name of an Italian carnival dancer, not the school chum of one’s respectable fiancée.”
John was inclined to agree. “Nevertheless, that is her name. Her aunts are the novelists Nora and Mirabel May. Perhaps one of them chose her name.”
Sherlock frowned. “That does seem plausible.” He took the tickets again and sniffed them. “As spinsters and the most prominent and financially successful members of the family, they would no doubt exert a certain influence over the naming of offspring, particularly those from poorer branches of the clan.”
“Seraphima was orphaned at an early age and brought up by the aunts,” John said. “So I’m sure you must be right.”
“One hardly follows the other, but yes, I must be.” He sniffed the tickets again. “When did you purchase these?”
John took them back. “Yesterday afternoon.” He put them back in his pocket. “I had just returned from the station when I told you about our trip.”
Sherlock’s smile was positively demonic. “That is a lie.”
“Those tickets rested for no small time in close proximity to the bare skin of your fiancée—next to her bosom, unless I miss my guess.”
John’s eyes popped. “I do beg your pardon!”
“They reek of her perfume—an ordinarily subtle scent intensified precipitously by abundance, heat, moisture, or some combination of the three. Since Mary is an extremely hygienic young woman not given to bathing herself in perfume or acts of great physical exertion, I deduce that she carried the tickets next to her skin while in a state of anxiety which resulted in greater than usual perspiration.”
“Have you been sniffing my fiancée?!?”
“Don’t be absurd.”
“No, but really!” Ordinarily Holmes’ deductions were a source of wonder and no small delight to his friend, but this seemed not only improper but highly perilous. “Who are you to recognize her scent?”
“I recognize the presence of Mrs. Hudson’s favorite hack driver by the lingering aroma of horse shit on my hall rug,” Holmes said. “This in no way represents a symbolic romantic attraction.” Now that he had the upper hand, his smile was almost warm. “Tell me the truth, John. Why are you going to the Lake District? What has Mary so frightened?”
“She isn’t frightened, Holmes; don’t be so dramatic.” He handed over the newspaper clipping Seraphima had enclosed with her frantic letter. “Merely concerned.”
“Search continues for missing child,” Holmes read the headline. “Hope fast slipping away—good lord, who writes this drivel?”
“The missing girl apparently has some connection to Seraphima and her family,” John explained. “She’s only seven years old, and Seraphima feels responsible for her in some way. She wrote Mary to ask if I might come and offer my assistance to the police.”
“You?” He handed back the clipping. “She asked for you?”
‘Why not?” John said, trying to remain unruffled. “She has read my accounts of your exploits, so she is aware of my expertise in such matters.”
“Your accounts, my exploits.” Holmes was heading for his bedroom. “Expertise indeed—do they want a nicely typed story for the newspapers, or do they want the girl found?”
“Perhaps they don’t want their lives turned upside down by a raving madman whose methods of investigation require the emotional ruin of everyone even remotely involved.” John followed and found him throwing a seemingly random collection of personal belongings into a case of his own. “Holmes, you are specifically not invited.”
“Nevertheless, I shall go.” He latched the case and handed it to John. “Come, come, Watson; Mary will be waiting. We mustn’t be late.”
“No.” There was no use arguing, and if put to torture, John might have admitted to feeling a wee bit relieved. “All right. Let’s go.”
End of excerpt – sounds pretty good, right? And here’s a list of the rest of the stories and authors involved – they all look fantastic to me:
Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost by Katie Magnusson
The Diamond Carter Ghost by Matthew Wilson
The Haunted Branch Line by Tally Johnson
The Arendall Horror by Thomas Olbert
Worlds Collide by S. H. Roddey
Time is Running Out, Watson by Adrian Cross
A Voice in the Blood by Dan Shaurette
The Hunt of the Red Boar by Thomas Fortenberry
The Canaries of Clee Hills Mine by Robert Perret
The Chase by Melissa McArthur
The Adventure of the Missing Trophy by Mark W. Coulter
The Case of the Rising Dead by Trenton Mabey
The Adventure of the Slow Death by Harding McFadden