Margaret Walsh’s collection of Sherlock Holmes stories is as odd as the title, which might exist to fascinate readers or describe a plot with just enough twists to mimic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Adventure of the Bloody Duck seems designed to pique readers’ curiosity enough to check out the book. The volume’s overall honest, friendly tone, will pull them through the rest.
The anthology is a good place for those who are not avid Holmes readers. Neither weak by any means, nor so diluted that die-hard fans will be bored, Walsh, a Melbourne, Australia author explains:
I did not have enough previously published work to make a reasonable anthology, so I set about writing two new stories for the book. In this anthology you will find four previously published stories, two new ones written expressly for this book. There is also a short essay at the end that I wrote to explain why Sherlock Holmes had such a grip on me.
That frankness is evident throughout the collection. Walsh uses the collection as a walk through her evolution as a Holmes writer and fan. Her first MX Holmes publication came from writing fan fiction. “The Affair of the Helingstone Rubies,” story in the volume, was the first of her contributions to one of MX’s more than 200 published Holmes novels and anthologies.
She offers, “Deceptive Appearances,” the 2017, first story written outside fan fiction
to show readers her literary evolution. That is followed by “The Mystery of the Vanishing Emeralds,” written originally for Bloody Duck. Despite its seriousness, as Doyle would want, the story shows that theft is filthy business. The second original tale, “The Rubies of Bast,” is more sinister. Readers will be anxious to read how Holmes arrived at the solution.
“Why Sherlock Holmes?”, Walsh’s confessional essay, will likely appeal most to those who question a fascination with Holmes. It first appeared in MX’s 2017, “Sherlock Holmes: Tales from the Stranger’s Room Volume 3”, but pinpoints what endears the stories to readers throughout time – friendship.
It is possibly the most intense friendship in literature. It is the friendship we all secretly desire. Someone who would give their life for us, and that we would do the same for.
The Adventure of the Bloody Duck and other Tales of Sherlock Holmes is not the cleverest MX book. It is well designed, easily read and earns its place.