Just when you were starting to fear that 2011 was turning a bit bleak, here's a piece of news to prove you wrong: There will be a new "Sherlock Holmes" novel released this fall. And it's by a writer who stands at least a chance of getting it right.
Anthony Horowitz has been chosen by Arthur Conan Doyle's estate to officially resurrect the iconic Victorian detective by writing a full-length novel, scheduled for release by Orion this September. As an author, Horowitz is perhaps best known for his hugely popular "Alex Rider" children's series. But he is also a screenwriter and is the creator and writer of two fine TV series with mystery themes: "Foyle's War" and "Collision" – the excellence of which bode well for the new "Holmes" novel.
When it comes to Holmes, Horowitz says he's been a devoted fan since he was 16. "I simply couldn't resist this opportunity to write a brand-new adventure for this iconic figure," he told the press. "[M]y aim is to produce a first-rate mystery for a modern audience while remaining absolutely true to the spirit of the original."
Horowitz is not giving away any details yet, but he has said that he plans to keep Holmes in his historic Victorian setting.
The truth is that Holmes has never gone out of style. When his creator, Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle, who featured Holmes in four novels and 56 short stories, finally tired of him, he tried to kill him off. But intense public pressure forced Sir Arthur to bring the detective back to life.
After Sir Arthur’s own death in 1930, his son Adrian wrote several stories featuring Holmes and Watson, also officially recognized by the Doyle estate, but never very popular.
This fresh attempt, however, with a skilled writer at the helm, may hold promise. The "James Bond" franchise, of course, is trying the same tactic, with a second release of an "official" new "James Bond" novel, "Carte Blanche" by Jeffrey Deaver, poised for release this spring.
But for those of us who would prefer a successful return to 221b Baker Street, there's nothing to do but cross our fingers – maybe watching a few reruns of "Foyle's War" while we wait – and hope for the best come September.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.