31st October, 1 Comment
By John Watson
As happened last year, with the case of the Blue Carbuncle just chronologically around the corner again and people beginning to think about gifts, Holmes has compiled his Christmas list.
He did not get everything that was on last year’s list but this year’s list is completely new. I have provided links to amazon.co.uk and amazon.com where possible.
1. Top of the list this year is the DVD of the BBC Sherlockwith a contemporary take on the classic stories set in present-day London. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as me, his loyal friend. We couldn’t be more different, but Sherlock’s inspired leaps of intellect coupled with my pragmatism forges an unbreakable alliance.
Across three, 90-minute, thrilling, scary, action-packed and highly entertaining television movies, Sherlock and I navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to get at the truth. Holmes has come out of the fog. With sparkling scripts and unforgettable performances from the two leads, this is Sherlock for a new generation. The DVD contains all 3 episodes and the original Pilot.
2. Linked to the BBC Sherlock is this neat, compact magnifying glass that every modern Sherlock needs. Watch Sherlock in A Study In Pink to see how he uses it. All you now need is the scarf, the coat and his endearing manner with all those about him and you’re set to go sleuthing this Christmas!
Amazon UK: Eschenbach Magnifying Glass
3. The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries, which I mentioned in Part 2 of Holmes on British Radio , has just been released. These are four new Holmes stories with a railway theme written by John Taylor who wrote The Undiscovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. These new stories are “An Inscrutable Masquerade”, “The Conundrum of Coach 13”, “The Trinity Vicarage Larceny” and “The 10.59 Assassin”.
According to Taylor, in a drawer in my desk, I have a locked cedarwood chest containing notes referring to some of Holmes’ cases that, for one reason or another, never saw the light of day. Now, for the first time, I have decided to reveal the truth to the world. In these four thrilling stories, Holmes experiments with the science of ballistics, locates some missing gold bullion, investigates the theft of a large amount of money and solves the baffling mystery of the Stovey murder.
If all that wasn’t enough then the stories are read by the newest Sherlock – Benedict Cumberbatch. Just one question then. Why is Sherlock (Cumberbatch) reading these stories rather than me (Martin Freeman)?
Amazon UK: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries, Amazon USA: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries (sorry but not available in the USA in time for Christmas but you could try The Unopened Casebook of Sherlock Holmes instead).
4. I have already reviewed this digitally-restored collection of the 14 films with Basil Rathbone as Holmes.
The multi-million pound restoration is discussed in a 5 minute featurette with Robert Gitt, Head Preservation Officer at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Along with the beautifully restored films are audio commentaries by Sherlock Holmes Expert David Stuart Davies (author of numerous books on Holmes and Rathbone) on The Scarlet Claw, The Woman In Green, Sherlock Holmes Faces Death and The Hound of the Baskervilles. There is also an audio commentary by another Holmes Expert Richard Valley (acclaimed author and publisher of Scarlet Street Mystery Magazine who in Amazon’s review is said to be currently penning a book on Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes although he sadly died in 2007) on The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.
Richard Valley has also provided production notes and the films are accompanied by photo galleries, movie posters and theatrical trailers.
5. Again I have already reviewed Sherlock Holmes for Dummies and despite its American bias and a couple of errors (my wife becoming Mary Marston instead of Morstan and mistaking the blue plaque above the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street for a legitimate historical plaque) it is still a handy guide to the stories, Britain as it was at that time, the characters in the stories, our portrayals in films, on television and on the stage, etc.
6. Continuing with the guides, I have now reviewed Close to Holmes – Alistair Duncan’s popular guide to Holmes and Conan Doyle’s London.
Close to Holmes is a handy guide that will just about fit in your pocket as you explore London as it is today and how it looked in the late nineteenth century to us and to my literary agent Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Alistair Duncan’s research is carefully done, as usual, and he treats us to pictures of many of the locations as they were and as they are now.
7. The second edition of Christopher Redmond’s Sherlock Holmes Handbook sums up this Canadian scholar’s lifetime expertise about Holmes. The first edition appeared in 1993 and this new edition catches up on new films and books and the advent of the Internet.
It is still one of my favourite guides providing a summary of each story in the Canon, the characters in the stories, the cases I chose not to publish, our rooms at 221B, Holmes’s methods and so on. In the section on Crime and Punishment, as well as a summary of British law (and law enforcement) as it was then, there is a summary of other detectives’ work before, during and after Holmes’ career.
8. The exhaustively annotated, ten-volume edition of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Edgar Award winner Leslie S. Klinger ends with The Apocrypha of Sherlock Holmes.
As is well known, Holmes’ adventures have inspired a vast body of literature. Since the 1920s these “writings about The Writings” have contributed fascinating new insights into the stories, enhancing the pleasure of reading them.
This final volume of The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library covers more “adventures” of Sherlock Holmes than those that are contained in the sixty tales. This deposit of extra-Canonical material is known by Sherlockian scholars as The Apocrypha.
Amazon UK: This volume is not yet listed by amazon.co.uk, Amazon USA: The Apocrypha of Sherlock Holmes
Bending the Willow, David Stuart Davies wonderful tribute to Jeremy who said that he wanted his interpretation of Holmes to “bend the willow, but not break it.”
Apparently a second edition of this fascinating and perceptive study is available but I have not yet seen it. The second hand copies listed on Amazon are quite expensive so it may be worth contacting the publishers direct.
10. Finally the Sherlock Holmes film. This was originally top of the list but I am now undecided about this as my initial enthusiasm for it has dissipated in the wake of the BBC Sherlock. I now wonder if anyone will really be able to capture what Holmes and I were up to in Victorian times. Some of the liberties taken with the Canon now begin to jar – such as Holmes appearing never to have met my future wife when in reality we both met her at the same time in 221B at the start of The Sign of The Four. Still, it is a very enjoyable film and the new one in production has Leslie Klinger advising them and with the addition of Stephen Fry as Mycroft this should help to ensure greater fidelity.
This was, as I predicted, a bumper year of Holmes books and other paraphernalia following the Sherlock Holmes film and Sherlock TV series and with follow-ups to both in production yet another bumper year may be soon upon us.