The Pursuit of the House-Boat is an 1897 novel by John Kendrick Bangs, and the second one to feature his Associated Shades take on the afterlife.
The original full title was The Pursuit of the House-Boat: Being Some Further Account of the Divers Doings of the Associated Shades, Under the Leadership of Sherlock Holmes, Esq. and it has also been titled In Pursuit of the House-Boat and Pursuit of the House-Boat.
There are 12 chapters in the book. They were first published as a serial, under the full-title and including the Newell illustrations, in Harper's Weekly from February 6 to April 24, 1897.
After the House-Boat was hijacked by Captain Kidd at the end of A House-Boat on the Styx, the various members of its club decided that in order to track it down, a detective would have to be called in. So they hired Sherlock Holmes, who, at the time of the book's publication, had indeed been declared dead by his creator.
The premise of the book is that everyone who has ever died (up until the time in which the book is set, which seems to be about the time of its publication) has gone to Styx. This does not appear to be the conventional Hell described by Dante in The Inferno, but rather the Hades described in Greek myth (both of which had Styxes): a universal collecting pot for dead souls, regardless of their deeds in life.
(Excerpt:) CHAPTER I: THE ASSOCIATED SHADES TAKE ACTION
The House-boat of the Associated Shades, formerly located upon the River Styx, as the reader may possibly remember, had been torn from its moorings and navigated out into unknown seas by that vengeful pirate Captain Kidd, aided and abetted by some of the most ruffianly inhabitants of Hades. Like a thief in the night had they come, and for no better reason than that the Captain had been unanimously voted a shade too shady to associate with self-respecting spirits had they made off with the happy floating club-house of their betters; and worst of all, with them, by force of circumstances over which they had no control, had sailed also the fair Queen Elizabeth, the spirited Xanthippe, and every other strong-minded and beautiful woman of Erebean society, whereby the men thereof were rendered desolate.
"I can't stand it!" cried Raleigh, desperately, as with his accustomed grace he presided over a special meeting of the club, called on the bank of the inky Stygian stream, at the point where the missing boat had been moored. "Think of it, gentlemen, Elizabeth of England, Calpurnia of Rome, Ophelia of Denmark, and every precious jewel in our social diadem gone, vanished completely; and with whom? Kidd, of all men in the universe! Kidd, the pirate, the ruffian—"
"Don't take on so, my dear Sir Walter," said Socrates, cheerfully. "What's the use of going into hysterics? You are not a woman, and should eschew that luxury. Xanthippe is with them, and I'll warrant you that when that cherished spouse of mine has recovered from the effects of the sea, say the third day out, Kidd and his crew will be walking the plank, and voluntarily at that."
"But the House-boat itself," murmured Noah, sadly. "That was my delight. It reminded me in some respects of the Ark."
"The law of compensation enters in there, my dear Commodore," retorted Socrates. "For me, with Xanthippe abroad I do not need a club to go to; I can stay at home and take my hemlock in peace and straight. Xanthippe always compelled me to dilute it at the rate of one quart of water to the finger."...