Sherlock Holmes trusted them to come up with evidence that would otherwise be difficult to gather. And they never failed.
It seems as if we can’t get enough of Sherlock Holmes. First there were the original Sherlock Holmes’ stories; then there were the Young Sherlock Holmes stories by Andrew Lane; now we have the Baker Street Boys series by Anthony Read.
The Baker Street Irregulars are a bunch of street urchins who make sporadic appearances as Holmes’ information gatherers. Conan Doyle names only one: Wiggins. The gang made their first appearance in A Sign of Four and then stayed on to help Holmes. This group was immortalised on the small screen by British scriptwriter and author Anthony Read in the 1980s. This series now makes its appearance as books. There are seven Baker Street Boys; though they are called Boys, three are actually girls. Wiggins, who is the only one named in the original stories, leads the gang. His second-in-command is Beaver who also acts as Wiggins’ Watson by penning the stories. The others are Shiner, Sparrow, Gertie, Rosie and Queenie.
A quick run through the books first: In The Case of the Disappearing Detective — the only one where Holmes appears in the beginning, to set the stage — the Boys rescue Holmes after he gets himself kidnapped by an American gang that’s bent on blowing up the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Of course, the gang is being remote controlled by Holmes’ arch enemy Professor Moriarty who sees this as an opportunity to get rid of his nemesis. After this one, Holmes appears only at the dénouement, much as a proud father would at his child’s graduation. The Professor is, however, a constant presence in all the cases; as is Inspector Lestrade who, like our movies, lands up just in time to make the arrests. The Case of the Captive Clairvoyant has the boys rescuing little Mary from a charlatan stepfather who is using her to deceive a noble family; in The Case of the Ranjipur Ruby, they rescue an Indian prince from a murderous attack and find themselves embroiled in family politics; in The Case of the Racehorse Ringer, they break a gambling ring centred on horse racing; while The Case of the Haunted Horrors has them solving a murder and an international spy mystery simultaneously.
Read’s language and pace keep you flipping pages to know what comes next. The atmosphere of the original books is recreated so that those who have read the originals find themselves recognising minor characters right through. Even if you haven’t read the originals, these books are an engrossing read that can be your stepping stone to the original.
THE CASE OF THE DISAPPEARING DETECTIVE; THE CASE OF THE CAPTIVE CLAIRVOYANT; THE CASE OF THE RANJIPUR RUBY; THE CASE OF THE RACEHORSE RINGER; THE CASE OF THE HAUNTED HORRORS; Anthony Read, Walker Books, Rs. 250 each