reviewed by Herb Levy
Edited and with an Introduction by Otto Penzler (A Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original, 816 pages, ISBN: 978-1-101-97281-1), Hardcover $40, Softcover $25)
Where do game designers get their inspirations? For many over the last 100 or so years, the inspiration came from the adventures of the world’s first consulting detective and arguably, the most famous and successful detective of all time: Sherlock Holmes. From Sherlock Holmes (a card game published by Parker Brothers in 1904) to today (with recent games employing the persona of the Great Detective including A Study in Emerald and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective), Holmes has been the springboard for a legion of mystery and detective games. What is true for gaming has also been true for literature. When it comes to critiques and commentaries, outside of The Bible, more has been written about Sherlock Holmes than anything else.
In The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, editor Otto Penzler (a formidable force in mystery literature himself as editor of many anthologies including The Big Book of Pulps and The Big Book of Black Mask Stories as well as owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan) has gathered together an amazing collection of stories centering on Holmes. This is NOT a collection of the 60 stories penned by (if you’re “playing the game”) Dr. John H. Watson and sold by his literary agent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that make up, what is referred to as, “the canon”. Rather, this is a masterful compilation of stories written by some of the finest writers over the last dozen decades that use Holmes as the inspiration for homage, imitation and/or satire.
The volume is arranged in sections that group the entries into loosely fitting categories. Leading off the volume is the 1900 published interview, “Conan Doyle Tells the True Story of Sherlock Holmes’s End” followed by “The Master” that reprints Conan Doyle;s own satire on his most famous character. But we’re just warming up.
Although vintage pieces make up the bulk of the volume (the most recent being from 2011), Penzler has unerring taste in his choices for inclusion. Within the covers are some wonderful pastiches which place Holmes back in Victorian England such as Vincent Starrett’s “The Unique Hamlet” as well as placing him as a sort of “Sherlock in Space” such as Poul Anderson’s “The Martian Crown Jewels” (both read years ago and worth a return visit). There are loads of entries from well known and respected writers such as best-selling authors Stephen King (“The Doctor’s Case”) and Neil Gaiman (“The Case of Death and Honey”). Authors who have made their marks in the mystery genre are well represented here as they tackle the Master Detective with work by Stuart Palmer (“The Adventure of the Marked Man”) and Edward D. Hoch (“The Adventure of the Cipher in the Sand”). It might also surprise some that such venerable talents as O. Henry (“The Sleuths”) have also found Holmes appealing and worth their attention. The rainbow of talent attracted to the subject matter is a testament to Holmes’ enduing appeal. The icing on the cake is the wonderful introductions by Penzler for each section and story, giving some welcome historical background and insight.
For those who only know Holmes from the current television series Sherlock (with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role) and Elementary (with Jonny Lee Miller as the spectacular sleuth), this volume offers a whole new world of detective delight. Those long enamored of the famous detective can once again revisit and enjoy, as Watson has said, “the best and wisest man” he had ever known. With this volume of top-notch Holmesian stories safely in your hands, you can settle in and say to yourself that, once again, “the game is afoot”! – – – – – – – Herb Levy
Winter 2016 GA Report Articles
reviewed by Herb Levy Stronghold Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 30-120 minutes; $99.95
The art of designing games has been transformed into a science in this new release by Friedemann Friese. Scientists in the future, Friese postulates, have managed to construct alternate Earths, programming each of these worlds with their own specific sets of laws and rules. The essence of these ...Read More
NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK It is a time honored and well respected tradition that, with the dawning of a new year, people think long and hard and come up with New Year's Resolutions. Maybe it's time to quit smoking, maybe you'll take that leap into a new job or a new relationship, maybe you will just go on a diet and lose those unwanted pounds ...Read More
reviewed by Joe Huber Splotter Spellen, 2 to 5 players, ages 14 and up, 120-240 minutes; 75€/$124.99
I have been fortunate enough to meet, and become friends with, many game designers over the years. In general this is a great thing from my point of view, as it’s given me the opportunity to playtest hundreds of unpublished games, sometimes in the early stages ...Read More
reviewed by Herb Levy Mayfair Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $60
There is a certain undeniable mystique surrounding upper scale hotels. Sometimes it is captured in the movies (vintage film buffs will recall the great classic film Grand Hotel
charting the lives of guests portrayed by Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford and more in ...Read More
reviewed by Kevin Whitmore Quined Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $79.99 Haspelknecht
is the third release from author Thomas Spitzer, and his third game in a trilogy of games about coal production in the Ruhr region of Germany. His prior two games, Ruhrschifffahrt and Kohle & Kolonie, have both received some acclaim, so I was eager to try ...Read More
reviewed by Pevans eggertspiele (in Germany) and R&R Games (in the US). 2-4 players, aged 12+, 2-3 hours to play (officially 75-150 minutes); $49.99 Mombasa
caught my eye twice at Spiel ’15: at eggertspiele’s stand, they being the German publisher, and again with R&R Games, who are publishing it in the US. It was Frank DiLorenzo, main man at R&R, who persuaded me (it didn’t ...Read More
reviewed by Herb Levy Tasty Minstrel Games/dlp Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $59.95
Last year, Orleans hit the gaming tables to considerable acclaim. This year, a new Deluxe Edition of the game has made it to market and not a moment too soon. (more…)
reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser Z-Man Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 45 minutes; $69.99 NOTE: A familiarity with Pandemic is assumed in this review.
The threat of horrifying diseases for which we have no known treatment ravaging the Earth remains an all-too-real possibility. Indeed, the recent outbreak of Ebola raised public consciousness of this possibility. (more…)
reviewed by Herb Levy Kosmos, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $59.95
Rudiger Dorn is back with a new game - and it's about time! Actually, I mean that literally. In this game postulating an alternate history, the year is 1899 and reports of unexplained time bending phenomena at ancient sites such as Stonehenge and the Pyramids have resulted in the ...Read More
reviewed by Herb Levy
Edited and with an Introduction by Otto Penzler (A Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original, 816 pages, ISBN: 978-1-101-97281-1), Hardcover $40, Softcover $25) Where do game designers get their inspirations? For many over the last 100 or so years, the inspiration came from the adventures of the world's first consulting detective and arguably, the most famous and successful detective of all time: Sherlock ...Read More
reviewed by Chris Kovac GMT Games, 2-3 players, ages 12 and up, 4-6 hours; $89 Triumph and Tragedy
, as designed by Craig Besinque, is a three player strategic war game of World War II in the Western theater using card management and block wargaming elements. In the game, you will play one of three factions (more…)
reviewed by Herb Levy Mayday Games/Hobby World, 1 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 45-60 minutes; $34.99
In the fantasy Berserk universe, power is paramount and in Viceroy
, designed by Yuri Zhuravlev, up to four players, immersed in that universe, compete by constructing a "power pyramid", (more…)
reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue Demoela Project, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 45-90 minutes; $54.99 Zena 1814
is one of the 2015 Essen's releases that most impressed me. (more…)