Baker Street Beat is an entertaining collection of short essays, stories and screenplays by Dan Andriacco, a self confessed Sherlock Holmes aficionado (he admits as much in his introduction so it hardly takes a Sherlockian level of genius to work this out) and covering the author’s own experiences and knowledge of the world of Holmes.
When faced with the term ‘essay’ one is put instantly in dread of dry, academic tracts with no inherent entertainment.
However, in this case the fear is unfounded.
The essays are more like articles, light and easy to read with an engaging and friendly style that draws you in and keeps you reading. The topics of the articles are interesting too.
Everything from reminiscences of the author’s trip to the Reichenbach Falls (Reichenbach Pilgrimage, p 14) to how to write the perfect Holmes pastiche (Writing the Holmes Pastiche, p29) is covered and there is likely to be something here to pique the interest of everyone. I particularly enjoyed ‘Writing the Holmes Pastiche’, an article which I suspect many writers who seek to emulate the style of Conan Doyle should look at to see what tropes and concepts need to be in play before a tale can truly be said to be a ‘Holmes pastiche’.
I did note in my reading of this article that the authors of the other two MX Publishing books I have reviewed did miss some of these required elements.
Whether you consider this to make them less worthy of the franchise or not is probably a matter of personal preference and whether you consider yourself are purist or not. In my personal opinion, it did not spoil my enjoyment and some of the features in this article are things I would never have considered being needed in a Holmes tale.
Andriacco’s fiction writing certainly does follow the rules he has set, however.
Though actually only one of them is listed as a pastiche (The Peculiar Persecution of John Vincent Harden, p37). Of the others, one (The Adventure of the Speckled Band p102) is actually a screenplay adaptation of an original Conan Doyle tale for radio, another (The Adventure of the Amateur Players p59) is a story about modern day child detectives using Holmes’s methods and the other screenplay (The Wrong Cab, p64) is a strange metaphysical tale about a modern day detective being transported into the past where he takes on the role of Watson in one of Holmes’ cases. All are fun stories with a lot to recommend them.
In all, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who has a love of Holmes and wants to learn more about him.