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Holmes' Appeal Is Elementary to Modern Mystery Writers


More than a hundred years ago, in the story "The Final Problem," Arthur Conan Doyle sent Sherlock Holmes over the Reichenbach Falls, locked in mortal combat with his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty. He meant to put an end to his famous character, but public demand forced a revival of the old boy, and, though Doyle faced his own final problem in 1930, Holmes has remained alive and well and has been solving crimes ever since.

This fall has been a particularly active time for him and his Victorian associates. The great man is celebrated in "Murder in Baker Street" (Carroll & Graf, $25, 277 pages), an anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Jon L. Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower (whose biography, "Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle," won the Edgar Allan Poe Award). In 11 new stories by Anne Perry, Bill Crider, Loren Estleman and Stuart Kaminsky, among others, Holmes and his chronicler-companion Dr. John Watson solve impossible crimes while bumping into such historical folks as Bram Stoker, Sir Richard Francis Burton and Jane Austen.

"Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance" (Viking, $24.95, 336 pages), Larry Millett's fourth chronicle of the detective's visits to North America and the St. Paul area where he and Watson are assisted by Shadwell Rafferty, a wily Irish giant of a saloonkeeper and self-made sleuth. This time, the trio takes a short hop across the river to Minneapolis where the grim murder of a mill union man sets the stage for a visit from President McKinley. In Stephen Kendrick's "Night Watch" (Pantheon, $23, 273 pages), a brutally murdered cleric leads Sherlock, along with his older and smarter brother, Mycroft, and Watson, to a gathering of international clergymen where he meets and is out-sleuthed by G.K. Chesterton's famous Father Brown.

Speaking of Mycroft, he is the subject of a lively new series by authors Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Bill Fawcett writing under the name Quinn Fawcett. Adventure No. 4, "The Scottish Ploy," newly reprinted in trade edition (Forge, $15.95, 352 pages), tosses Mycroft and his secretary, the likable Paterson Guthrie, into a complex maze involving anarchists, a kidnapped actor, phrenology and a beautiful and mysterious young woman. Dr. James Mortimer, who introduced Holmes to "The Hound of the Baskervilles," goes on his own quest to free a captive damsel in Gerard Williams' "Dr. Mortimer and the Aldgate Mystery" (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's, $22.95, 224 pages).

The opera diva-adventuress whom Sherlock referred to as " the woman" in the story "A Scandal in Bohemia," Irene Adler, is up to book five of her series by Carole Nelson Douglas, "Chapel Noir" (Forge/Tom Doherty, $25.95, 494 pages). The setting is 1889 Paris, where it appears that the dreaded Jack the Ripper is among those attending l'Exposition Universelle. With her companion Nell, the feisty gun-toting, cigar-puffing Irene is determined to make the city again safe for prostitutes. Sherlock shows up to offer his assistance in this dark but witty caper.

Though he is far from honest, the Professor Moriarty who appears as the protagonist in Michael Kurland's series is not quite the villain that Doyle made him. In his new adventure, "The Great Game" (St. Martin's, $24.95, 296 pages), he forms an uneasy alliance with Holmes and Watson in an attempt to aid two friends who wind up in the middle of an attempted assassination of a German prince. The first two Moriartys--"The Infernal Device," with the prof and Holmes working to save the British monarchy, and "Death by Gaslight," in which his quarry is a serial killer who's bumping off aristocrats--have been collected, along with a short story, "The Paradol Paradox," in a bulging new trade paperback, "The Infernal Device and Others" (St. Martin's, $18.95, 518 pages).

Doyle assumes the role of detective in Roberta Rogow's "The Problem of the Surly Servant" (St. Martin's, $24.95, 295 pages), when, while visiting the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) at Oxford, the latter is accused of murdering a suspected blackmailer. The author's genuine forays into detection may be found in "The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" (Berkley Prime Crime, $22.95, 304 pages), gathered by Stephen Hines and introduced by mystery writer Steven Womack. Doyle studied and wrote about two criminal cases in which apparently innocent men had been thrown in jail. His articles and essays are presented with court transcripts and other associated information from London papers of the day.

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