“The Specter of Tullyfane Abbey” — Peter Tremayne

Peter Tremayne is the pseudonym of Celtic scholar and historian Peter Berresford Ellis. As Tremayne, he has published many novels, including the more than two dozen in his Sister Fidelma series of seventh-century historical mysteries. Tremayne’s short fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Emerald Magic and Dark Detectives, and has been collected in several volumes, most recently in An Ensuing Evil and Others (in which you’ll find several other Holmes stories). His latest books are two Fidelma mysteries, The Council of the Cursed and The Dove of Death.

Even our closest friends are often an enigma to us, especially if we first met them as adults. It’s often striking the first time you see someone you know well interacting with, for example, their parents. Suddenly so much about why that person behaves the way they do falls into place. In Conan Doyle’s stories, Holmes is already a fully formed adult by the time Watson meets him, and very little of Holmes’s past is ever revealed. Many readers have wondered, how does a little boy grow up to be Sherlock Holmes? What was he like as a teenager, or at university? The Disney movie Young Sherlock Holmes dealt with this subject, and the more engaging early sections of the film were less about solving mysteries and more about the simple pleasure of seeing a familiar character in a new light. Our next tale also deals with a younger version of Sherlock Holmes, and here we see a character who’s very different from the Holmes we know—less confident in his deductions, more trusting of strangers—and yet we see in him hints of the man he will become, driven in no small part by the events that follow.