When looking at my to-review TBR list for September, I realized I had not one, not two, but four different books that were either Sherlock Holmes-inspired or Sherlock Holmes-adjacent. This realization led me to thinking about all of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations that have been released/been published/aired on TV in the past decade or so, which in turn led me to want to create a list to share so that you—if you’re as interested in the consulting detective as I apparently am—can dive in, too.
The game is afoot, friends!
You’ve likely seen at least one of these movies, which star Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively. Although the movies’ plots aren’t based solely on any Sherlock Holmes stories, there are glimpses on occasion of the source material, and the time period/costumes/settings are similar to those of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s era. (I was going to say historically “accurate,” but then I rewatched clips from the film.) But really, how can we fault a movie when it brings us scenes like this one:
(Bless you, Guy Ritchie.)
The Stoker and Holmes series
Colleen Gleason’s series, which begins with The Clockwork Scarab, followed by The Spiritglass Charade and wraps up in The Chess Queen Enigma (releasing Sept. 29), tells of the adventures of Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes, two famous-adjacent young women—Evaline is the sister of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and Mina is Sherlock’s niece—who get caught up in a world of investigation and deduction, with a little bit of time travel and steampunk thrown in.
This movie stars Ian McKellan as an aged Sherlock who’s suffering from a memory that isn’t what it used to be and yet still trying to figure out the only case that ever escaped his grasp. Mr. Holmes imagines what it might be like for Sherlock Holmes to grow old; it doesn’t draw on any published stories for plot so much as it does for character traits.
The Portia Adams Adventures, written by Angela Misri, include Jewel of the Thames and Thrice Burned (and No Matter How Improbable, which will be released next year). The series takes place in 1930s, and focuses on Portia Adams, a young woman and budding detective who mysteriously inherits a home in London, which just so happens to be at 221 Baker Street.
The Jackaby series
William Ritter’s series, which begins with Jackaby and continues with Beastly Bones (releasing Sept. 22), takes place in a world in which Sherlock Holmes is a known literary figure, but the main characters—R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook—and their relationship has a decidedly Sherlock-Watson feel. And although the case Jackaby and Abigail investigates has a much more paranormal bent than anything Sherlock and Watson would have ever investigated, the way Jackaby and Abigail go about sussing out the perpetrator would impress even Holmes himself. (Maybe. Dude’s hard to read.)
Modern Day Spins
Likely the most familiar of all adaptations, Sherlock, is also the most faithful to source material. The series, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as John Watson, draws heavily on Conan Doyle’s stories, for both titles of episodes and character traits. Of course, the series did stay away from anything Victorian … until this Christmas, when we’ll see a much different Sherlock than we’ve come to know:
The Lock & Mori trilogy
This new series from Heather W. Petty “stars” two highly intelligent teenagers, Sherlock Holmes and James “Mori” Moriarty, who are brought together by a chance happening and decide to work together to solve a murder, even though they really can’t stand each other at first. Please note that I'm stressing the “at first.” Also, Mori is a girl.
(Check back later this week for my review of Lock & Mori, the first book in the series!)
There have been many situations over the years where Hollywood has attempted to remake a perfectly good BBC show for U.S. mass consumption. Thankfully, when it came to creating a U.S. Sherlock adaptation, some smart person decided to do their own thing rather than just remake Sherlock. And thus was born Elementary, an adaptation turned crime procedural that features recovering heroin addict Holmes, played by Jonny Lee Miller, and a female Watson, played by Lucy Liu. (The show also features a female Moriarty and a transgender Mrs. Hudson.) The cases that this Holmes and Watson, possibly due to their sheer number, aren’t so much based on Holmes stories, but the characters all have quirks that harken back to the source.
The Every series
Another situation of a world in which Sherlock Holmes “exists,” Ellie Marney’s Every series, which began in Every Breath and continued in Every Word. (The third book in the series, Every Move, is already available in Australia, but no release date for the U.S. has been set yet. … But I’m not bitter or anything.) The books tell the stories of James Mycroft and Rachel Watts—who are well aware of their last names, thank you—don’t mean to get into trouble, but just can’t help diving in when it finds them.
This is obviously not a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start. However, if I missed any good ones, let me know in the comments!
P.S.—Did you know that the character of Dr. Gregory House, from House, is very much based on Sherlock Holmes?