Watson and Holmes: A Scandal in Harlem

FairSquare Comics. (Noir Is the New Black). Jan. 2024. 136p. ISBN 9781960171030. $25. M
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic characters are reimagined as Black detectives working out of an office above a vintage book and vinyl store in contemporary Harlem in this collection of tales from a host of predominantly African American creators (Easton, Karl Bollers, Greg Anderson Elysée, Lindsay Faye, Steven Grant, Steven Harris, Dennis Calero, and Eli Powell). An investigation into the mysterious death of the wife of a powerful city councilman turns deadly when Holmes and Watson run afoul of a gang of Russian mobsters behind a sex-trafficking ring. Looking into the apparent suicide of a military veteran with whom Watson served in Afghanistan pits him and Holmes against federal agents determined to prevent them from exposing a top-secret scientific research facility. A music mogul desperate, for help when a blackmail scheme threatens to destroy his empire, features in a story that reimagines Holmes’s beguiling female counterpart, Irene Adler, as a charismatic recording artist and revises famed criminal mastermind Moriarty into an exploitative international media conglomerate.
VERDICT While some entries emphasize action sequences so heavily that the characters seem connected to the source material in name only, the majority are refreshingly contemporary updates of the intricate plotting and character dynamics present in Doyle’s original stories.
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