Davis makes some excellent ancillary choices ... The baseline reality of all books like The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes is both sobering and challenging: there are no real rivals of Sherlock Holmes. The closest approximations, an egotistical Belgian sleuth and a little old lady with a mind like a bacon slicer, are comfortably distant second-placers, and the various problem-solvers Davis assembles here don’t even come close. But they make for all the more intriguing reading because of that, and the picks here are good. The biting little irony of the book is that finishing it will create a near-irresistible urge to read a Holmes story, or more than one, but such an indulgence can only be improved by a bit more context.
Holmes authority Leslie S. Klinger opens the anthology with a generous background essay, after which Davis reprints a variety of excellent stories ... My recommendation: Buy any and every collection you see titled The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes..
While Davis’ collection offers the pleasure of undiscovered countries, it also reaffirms that the Master is still the Master. The earliest tales show a pace too slow and a syntax too elaborate for modern tastes ... Things perk up as the twentieth century gets going, and the focus on reading a pattern in the physical world strengthens ... Still, Doyle’s magnetic personalities are missing, and this collection will likely be of mostly historical interest.