A Study in Emerald is a Hugo and Locus Award winning short story by Neil Gaiman in which he pays tribute to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
At first Gaiman’s story appears to be a straight Sherlock Holmes pastiche as a man who appears to be Watson relates how his new friend, a consulting detective who appears to be Holmes, is being asked by Inspector Lestrade to help solve a murder mystery. In fact, it completely parallels Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet,which gets its name from Holmes’ comment that the murder scene is “a study in scarlet.”
You probably know where I’m going with this. There are a few clues that Gaiman’s world is not the England we know (e.g., it’s referred to by its ancient name of Albion), but we’re left in no doubt when this murder scene is “a study in emerald.” Still, though, Gaiman only hints at what this alternate England is like, and the fact that he never tells us much is part of the charm of this story. Then, when the narrator and detective solve the case and call the Inspector in to arrest their criminal, Gaiman throws us a delightful twist that will have Sherlock’s fans grinning.
I listened to Neil Gaiman narrate the audio version of A Study in Emerald which is 49 minutes long and is available at Audible for $3 for members and $4 for non-members. I always enjoy hearing Gaiman read his own stories. If you’d prefer to read this story in print, you can find a free pdf version that reads like a Victorian newspaper at Neil Gaiman’s website.