Leslie S. Klinger ’70 is a man unafraid of things that go bump in the night. A tax, estate planning, and business lawyer by day, Klinger pursues literary horror and mysteries after hours (and on weekends).
As a 2L, he vowed to be well prepared for class, but he’d always drop the textbooks at 11 p.m. for a good novel. “When I received The Annotated Sherlock Holmes as a gift in 1968, I was hooked by the footnotes—a treasure trove of detail and backstories,” Klinger says. “I discovered the cult of Sherlock, and I wanted to join that club. I subscribed to the Baker Street Journal, I started collecting Holmes materials, and I didn’t want to stop.” It was just the beginning. One day his wife asked a galvanizing question: “You’ve got all these books. Why don’t you write something?” So he did— including the 3,000-page The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, for which he won the mystery world’s equivalent of an Oscar, the Edgar Award for the Best Critical/Biographical Work in 2005.
Today he’s an expert on Victorian-era icons Holmes and Dracula, and H.P. Lovecraft’s dark, gothic tales. He’s also a busy anthologist/collaborator—working with Laurie R. King, a bestselling author of the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
Together, they have published three anthologies, including their latest, In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, featuring Holmes-inspired stories. Klinger is also co-editing Anatomy of Innocence, true stories of wrongly incarcerated—and finally exonerated—individuals, with Loyola law professor Laura Caldwell. Working alone, he recently edited In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe, a collection of classic horror tales.
Recent Holmes iterations (Manhattan-based Elementary, featuring an edgy current-day Holmes and a female Watson; London-based Sherlock, with Watson as a recovering veteran with PTSD; and the Warner Bros.-Robert Downey, Jr. films for which Klinger was technical advisor) attest to the enduring popularity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation.
Unsurprisingly, the Doyle estate objected to Klinger’s efforts to free 50 early Holmes novels from copyright protection, based upon the passage of time. Federal courts ruled in his favor, holding that all but 10 post-1923 stories lack intellectual property protection.
Once again, the game is afoot.