Amy H. Sturgis (eldritchhobbit) wrote,
Amy H. Sturgis

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More Lists! Sherlockian Pastiches and Teas

The end of year means LISTS, LISTS, LISTS!

Sherlockian Pastiches

FYI, an update about reading Sherlock Holmes pastiches...

More than two years ago, I asked for recommendations of Sherlock Holmes pastiches and received great replies. (Thank you!) I waited until I'd finished going through all of Arthur Conan Doyle's canonical Holmesian writings in order, but now I've embarked on my pastiche reading. I'm still only "baby steps" into the project, but I thought I'd list the novels I've read thus far, ranked in order from my most favorite to my least favorite. My reviews are general, and though they may contain a few spoilers about the premise of a given work, they don't give away any twist endings or key surprises.

There are new entries on my list since the last time I posted an update.

The Best of the Best, Which Deserves Its Own Category

A Study in Emerald by Neil Gaiman (2003)
Read my review.


Most Favorite Novel Thus Far:
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye (2009)
Read my review.

The Mycroft Memoranda by Ray Walsh (1985)
Read my review.

The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin (1978)
Read my review.

The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Anthony Horowitz (2011)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Innsmouth Whaler by Christian Klaver (2010)
Read my review.

The Whitechapel Horrors by Edward B. Hanna (1992)
Read my review.

Time for Sherlock Holmes by David Dvorkin (1983)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Seven Deadly Sins Murders by Barry Day (2002)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Copycat Murders by Barry Day (2000)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula: The Adventure of the Solitary Grave by Christian Klaver (2009)
Read my review.

The West End Horror: A Posthumous Memoir of John H. Watson, M.D. by Nicholas Meyer (1976)
Read my review.

The Seven-Percent Solution: Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. by Nicholas Meyer (1974)
Read my review.

The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr (2005)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Apocalypse Murders by Barry Day (2001)
Read my review.

The Canary Trainer: From the Memoirs of John H. Watson by Nicholas Meyer (1993)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Lustrous Pearl by Christian Klaver (2012)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes and the Shakespeare Globe Murders by Barry Day (1997)
Read my review.

Lestrade and the Ripper by M.J. Trow (1999)
Read my review.

Novels with Sherlock Holmes as a Character, But Not Pastiches

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (1994)
Read my review.

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon (2005)
Read my review.


The Thames Horror and Other Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Barbara Roden (2011)
Read my review.

The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by John Joseph Adams (2009)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes in Orbit edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg (1995)
Read my review.

Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries and Other Stories by John Taylor (2010)
Read my review.

Related Works

Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower (1999)
Read my review.

The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the Real Forensics Behind the Great Detective's Greatest Cases by E.J. Wagner (2006)
Read my review.


In the novella/novelette category, I've read and thoroughly enjoyed "The Adventure of the Elusive Emeralds" (in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #4), "The Adventure of the Haunted Bagpipes" (in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #5), and "The Book of Tobit" (in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #6), all by Carla Coupe (aka beledibabe). Highly recommended!

I am currently reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Gaslight Grotesque: Nightmare Tales of Sherlock Holmes edited by J.R. Campbell (2010). I'll review it as soon as I'm done!

Sherlock-Related Teas

I'm continuing to drink my way through the Sherlock Holmes-themed tea blends at Adagio Teas. (You can search for blends by name or by creator here.) My niece and nephew created a monster when they gave me the new teapot for Christmas! In case you're interested, here are my updated amateur "reviews" of the blends I've tried thus far, ranked in order of my enjoyment.

"Must Have" Blends

DI Lestrade by Vanessa Harper
Tea? Definitely my division.
Description: Everyone deserves a holiday now and then; especially the long-suffering, lovable DI Lestrade, whose years of trying not to punch Sherlock have left him understandably (earl) grey around the temples (and, well, the rest of his head too). Even if that holiday is limited to a few blessedly chaos-free moments at his desk, everyone's favorite Met officer (still faintly cinnamon-tan from his recent trip to an undisclosed location in the country) might reach for this blend of traditional earl grey with notes of chocolate, caramel, and a hint of cinnamon both to relax and to be ready for whatever bizarre case next comes his way.
Review: I was so excited to see the Lestrade blend added to Vanessa's Sherlock set - and then it turned out to be BRILLIANT. After one cup, I already knew I'd be ordering more. The Earl Grey is the strongest flavor, but the subtle chocolate and caramel notes from the tiger eye follow and add wonderful depth, and the cinnamon pulls all of it together. It's bold and rich and absolutely perfect without anything added, almost as lovely as the DI himself. This goes straight to the top of my list of favorites.

Sherlock's Eyes by Molly Endries
His eyes have such power.
Description: The mint awakens and piques the senses. The green adds some softness and comfort. The Earl Grey provides a lasting, lingering, and comforting base.
Review: Fantastic! I could stand around all day, just inhaling the smell of this tea. The chocolate and bergamot scents really jump out at me from the bag (and the finished cup). The taste, however is more the clean coolness of the green tea and especially the spearmint. It's wonderfully refreshing and complex, and I immediately want another cup. I'm so glad I took a chance with this blend! I suspect (deduce?) that I'll be buying more.

My Dear Watson by Christa Y
The game's afoot, but first you'd better have a spot of tea.
Description: Bergamot-infused Earl Grey combines with delicious chocolate in this deerstocking-capped blend, together with a tiny hint of cream to round out the flavors.
Review: I'm a big Earl Grey fan, so I was worried about the chocolate becoming overpowering, but I'm also a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, so I had to give this a try. It's ideal! The Earl Grey taste hits first, perfectly clear, and then the dark chocolate follows behind and leaves a haunting, yummy aftertaste. The cream brings it all together. The flavors play off each other so well, and I absolutely love how comforting and complex this is. I'll certainly be buying more.

Mycroft by Vanessa Harper
Add a bit of cream and sugar and it just might be enough to make you forget about the cake that your diet has prohibited.
Description: Vanilla green, almond, and blackberry mingle in this subtle and sophisticated tea worthy of a 'minor member of Her Majesty's government.'
Review: This is a brilliant blend, complex and refined, as befits Mycroft. I taste the almond first, then it's smoothed by the vanilla, and the blackberry comes in last and lingers in a delightful way. Not too sweet, not too tart. I drink it hot without anything added, and it's perfect. I suspect I'll be going through this bag rather quickly. I can't seem to stop drinking it! Here's hoping there will be a Lestrade blend in Vanessa's Sherlock-inspired set soon. This one couldn't be better.

The Woman by Vanessa Harper
Irene Adler knows what you'll like; this tea will have you begging for another cup. Twice.
Description: A slap of blood-red raspberry lurks beneath a smooth disguise of vanilla and sinfully spicy chocolate chai.
Review: This tea smells like sin in a bag. The taste lives up to the scent. The chai hits first (the chocolate very subtly, the spices more boldly), and then the vanilla follows and cools it down. The raspberry appears last and lingers longest in a delightful way.

Molly Hooper by Andy Arnold
Description: Sweet and soothing with cherries and hints of almond, vanilla and rose hips, this tea is true to Molly's gentle and sweet personality.
Review: I've been searching for a Molly Hooper blend to love, and this is it. I adore it! It's perfect for drinking at night, because it's decaf, and yet it's not shy: it's bursting with flavor. The bright-tart cherry taste is front and center, and the vanilla sweetens it without robbing the cherry of the spotlight. The rooibos almond is a grounding force that adds extra depth and body without interrupting or overpowering the cherry-vanilla combination. (And, personally, as an asthmatic, I love a rooibos at bedtime, as it helps my breathing, so this is ideal for me.) This is a lovely interpretation of Molly's character - charming and undemanding, and yet there's quite a lot to appreciate if one takes the time to notice. I've been drinking this hot and without anything added, and it's just perfect that way.

Very, Very Good Blends

The Mind and the Heart by Cara McGee
A perfectly complimentary blend.
Description: 'Spicy and Jammy' with a 'buzzy mouthfeel'. Stir a spoonful of honey into this this subtly fruity tea for a surprisingly sweet pairing.
Review: This is quite lovely. It smells wonderful. The first taste is the tartness of the berries and the warmness of the vanilla, but the cinnamon and ginger follow up for the perfect ending. I love that it's strong and it needs nothing added. My favorite of Cara's Sherlock collection (thus far, at least) remains the Watson blend, but I really love this one, as well.

Watson by Cara McGee
A crack shot and brown as a nut.
Description: Queen and Country traditionalist, but still recounting his days in Afghanistan drinking green tea, John Watson prefers his tea with a bit of cream, no sugar, and just a little warm from a touch of cinnamon.
Review: This is my favorite of Cara McGee's blends (that I've tried thus far). It's downright comforting while at the same time feeling strong and energetic. (Perfect for Dr. Watson, isn't it?) I'm an Earl Grey fan, and this note is clear and dominant; there's an added kick from the Irish Breakfast, and the cinnamon comes across subtly throughout and then wonderfully at the end to round out the flavor in a very satisfying way. I'll need more of this one.

Donovan by Cara McGee
Careful, could be arsenic*. (*It's not.)
Description: Hard working and long suffering, this blend comes off a little strong at first, then mellows out with the taste of vanilla cookies laced with almonds.
Review: I really like this one. It smells amazing - chocolate and spice - but the taste is very subtle and mellow. The chai boldness comes out first, but almost immediately the taste turns smooth, with vanilla and almond as the strongest and most lasting notes. Like Sally at a press conference (and not, for example, persecuting Sherlock), this is calming and capable, with a lot going on just under the surface.

Very Good Blends

Lestrade by Cara McGee
A great cup of tea. And, if we're very lucky, it might even be a good one.
Description: Smoky traces of gunpowder, aged leather, mellowed with a trace of hazelnut. A distinguished, if tired, blend.
Review: This is such an ideal interpretation of Lestrade's character! Down-to-earth, calm, with hidden depth. I love its smokiness. I prefer to drink my tea plain, with nothing added, and this works wonderfully well that way, but it's even better, I think, with a splash of lemon. Normally hazelnut is a bit too sweet for my taste, but the slight hint of it here perfectly offsets the earthy-bitterness to create a rich, smooth taste.

MolloMar Tea by Cara McGee
Sweetest OTEAP ever, to be honest.
Description: Inspired by BBC's Sherlock (Molly Hooper) and Cabin Pressure (Martin Crieff) and way too many cute fanfics oh geeze.
Review: This is a sweet and gentle blend, perfect for Molly and Martin, conjuring the feeling of a shy but heartfelt hug. The dewy cherry hits first, followed by a wave of lemon. The vanilla takes the tartness from both and is the last, lingering note. It's a subtle and delicate flavor, perfect with nothing added. Even better than I expected!

Sherlock's Shock Blanket by Iza Mariano
Description: A comforting blend of mocha and cream with a hint of orange. Perfect for those who need a strong safety blanket for those dreary days.
Review: This requires a little extra steeping time to be at its best, but it's worth it. The chickory-like matte is the first taste that hits, smoky with subtle hazelnut and chocolate (in that order) undertones, smoothed by the cream. The orange kicks in last for a nice little bite. This tea feels substantive. Very satisfying, especially lovely in the morning (or after your flatmate has shot a serial murderer to save your life, your choice).


Mycroft by Cara McGee
No brother, I have not been eating more cake. I've been drinking it.
Description: Chocolate chip, rooibos vanilla chai, and cream.
Review: This tastes like drinking a weakly-flavored spice cake. The chocolate scent is strong, but the taste is vanilla and spice. It's a very mild taste. It's pleasant, but rather lacking in personality. I've found that mixing half Mycroft and half Lestrade, however, or half Mycroft and half wild strawberry, makes a far more enjoyable blend.

Moriar-tea by Vanessa Harper
If you don't fall for this cup of tea, I'd be surprised, really I would.
Description: Hidden beneath this deceptively harmless Irish breakfast, notes of blood orange and gingerbread reveal a bloodthirsty, good old-fashioned villain waiting to burn the heart out of you.
Review: This is a great interpretation of Moriarty's character. I love the symbolism of each of the ingredients. The Irish breakfast comes through clearest, with the gingerbread a subtle but persistent undertone, and the blood orange joining in with a bite at the end. It needs a longer steeping time than some others for the flavors to develop fully, but it's well worth the wait. This complex blend won't exactly burn the heart out of you, but it's definitely for when you want a "wake-up call." Of Vanessa's Sherlock set, the DI Lestrade and Mycroft blends are my very favorites (thus far), but this one is quite good.
Tags: arthur conan doyle, sherlock, sherlockian pastiche list, tea

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