Let me introduce you to one of my newest friends. His name is Herlock Sholmes. If you’re thinking, “That sounds very similar to the great detective, Sherlock Holmes”, you are not mistaken.

I had the pleasure of purchasing The Complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes from my favorite used bookstore in St. Augustine, FL. Every time I visit St. Augustine, I slip into Second Read Books. It may be small, but they always have a great selection of used books in fine condition. On my last visit, I found a large, green book that seemed to be calling my name. The picture on the front was a cartoonish Sherlock Holmes with wide eyes and a large pipe; there was a massive cloud of smoke billowing from the pipe. In red letters above the picture was the name Herlock Sholmes. The subtitle at the bottom read, “The delightful Sherlock Holmes parodies of Charles Hamilton”. There was no question, I had to have that book.

From the introduction by Norman Wright, I learned that Herlock Sholmes was first printed in “The Greyfriars Herald” in November 1915. The creator of this satirical and hilarious detective was Charles Hamilton. For almost forty years, Hamilton delighted audiences with the antics of Herlock Sholmes. The introduction ends with this paragraph:

In all there were nearly one hundred Herlock Sholmes tales, most of them miniature gems of pastiche that have lain all but forgotten for over sixty years. Eighteen of them were published in the United States of America by The Mysterious Press in 1975, but this is the first attempt to collect the entire Herlock Sholmes cycle into one volume.

Norman Wright, from the introduction to The complete Casebook of Herlock Sholmes, copyright 1989

I wish I could explain to you how excited I am to own a book that claims to be the first attempt to collect anything!

I am thoroughly enjoying reading these stories. Some of them are “retellings” of classic Sherlock Holmes tales. Others are wartime satire poking fun at both the enemy and the government. I decided to read these parodies at the same time I am reading a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. It has made the experience so much greater! For example, Sherlock Holmes solved the case of The Sign of the Four, while Sholmes solved The Sign of the Forty-Four. Each detective had to figure out how the thief and murderer entered a second story room while the room was bolted from the inside. Holmes’ culprit scaled the the wall and let down a rope for his accomplice. Sholmes’ criminal used an elephant, because “a man carrying a ladder to the scene of the crimes would have excited remark”.

One of the things that sets Sholmes apart is that you do not have to be familiar with any Sherlock Holmes stories to enjoy the humorous tales of Herlock Sholmes. However, it is fun to find the similarities between the two.

In all, if you enjoy a good, old-fashioned parody, tongue-in-cheek humor, and a quick who-done-it mystery, I recommend you look up Herlock Sholmes. He will not disappoint!

(image credit goodreads.com)