It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.
Andrew Lane Talks About Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes)
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote fifty-six short stories and four novels about Sherlock Holmes. You can still find them in most bookshops. When he first appeared, Sherlock was around thirty-three years old and was already a detective with an established set of habits and abilities. In his last appearance he was around sixty, and had retired to the Sussex coast to keep bees. Yes, bees.
My intention with the Young Sherlock Holmes series is to find out what Sherlock was like before Arthur Conan Doyle first introduced him to the world. What sort of teenager was he? Where did he go to school, and who were his friends? Where and when did he learn the skills that he displayed later in life – the logical mind, the boxing and sword-fighting, the love of music and of playing the violin?
Arthur Conan Doyle gave little away about Sherlock's early years, and most writers since then have avoided that period of time as well. We know little about his parents, or indeed where he lived. We know he was descended on his mother's side from the French artist Vernet and that he had a brother called Mycroft, who appears in a few of the short stories, but that's about it. That has given me the freedom to create a history for Sherlock that is consistent with the few hints that Conan Doyle did let slip, but also leads inevitably to the man that Conan Doyle described.
I promise that there will be more adventures of Sherlock Holmes at school and university, but in the meantime you might want to seek out the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If you want to go further, you could do worse than seek out the three more recent Holmes novels by Nicholas Meyer--The Seven Per-Cent Solution, The West End Horror, and The Canary Trainer--as well as Lyndsay Faye's Dust and Shadow.
Until next time, when Sherlock faces the repulsive Red Leech...