Tag Archive for Sherlock Holmes

The Ardlamont Mystery

The Ardlamont Mystery: The Real-Life Story Behind the Creation of Sherlock Holmes by Daniel Smith (Michael O’Mara, 2018) Whereas Smith sifts every last scrap of the defendant’s and victim’s backstories, the key medical witnesses—Joseph Bell and Henry Littlejohn, upon whom Doyle based Sherlock Holmes—have walk-on parts at best. An assiduously researched historical non-event with a reprehensibly misleading subtitle.    

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (Ward Lock & Co, 1887); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (ABC/Audible, 2017) This would have made a fine short story—introducing the great detective to his chronicler—yet the lengthy second part serves only to demonstrate Conan Doyle’s dependence on Holmes and Watson. In the absence of these seminal characters, the prose turns flaccid.…

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (George Newnes, 1902); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (Audible, 2017) Despite lacking its protagonist for extended periods and being little more complex a mystery than those of Conan Doyle’s short stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles sustains itself quite charmingly at novel length. The unhurried telling affords added solemnity to the…

Rusputin’s Revenge

Rusputin’s Revenge by John Lescroart (Dutton, 1987); audiobook read by Tim Baltz (Brilliance Audio, 2011) A mystery rich in period detail but lacking a detective. Set in the Russia of Tsar Nicholas II, narrated by naïve French spy Jules Giraud and nominally featuring the son of Sherlock Holmes, this muddles along nicely enough until its absurd dénouement.    

Son of Holmes

Son of Holmes by John Lescroart (Dutton Books, 1986); audiobook read by Tim Baltz (Brilliance Audio, 2011) The titular Son of Holmes lurks mostly in the background, while the French protagonist is narrated by an American too well versed in ‘Allo ‘Allo cod accents. Nonetheless, the mystery is quietly engaging and the denouement at least smacks of the Sherlockian.  …

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (George Newnes, 1893); audiobook ready by Stephen Fry (ABC, 2017) Despite coming across as increasingly distant from modern times, these tales of Sherlock Holmes retain their appeal. Simply put, Holmes and Watson are great characters, and the mysteries themselves have a charm that rests enduringly in Conan Doyle’s (and Stephen…

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (George Newnes, 1905); audiobook read by Stephen Fry (ABC, 2017) Stephen Fry takes seriously the task of voicing Conan Doyle’s stories, yet with faint echoes of his own comedic characters seeping through (in contrast sufficient to add further gravitas to the great detective). Sherlock Holmes resumes practice post-Reichenbach, as superior…

Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries

Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries by John Taylor; audiobook read by Benedict Cumberbatch (AudioGO, 2010) Although contrived in places, these four Sherlock Holmes pastiches are of sufficient quality that they feel like original Conan Doyle stories. Benedict Cumberbatch, at the time having just concluded series one of Sherlock, narrates from Watson’s perspective without unduly distracting the listener.    

The Bone is Pointed

The Bone is Pointed by Arthur W. Upfield (Angus & Robertson, 1938); audiobook read by Peter Hosking (Bolinda, 2010) This mystery doesn’t take much solving, but neither did many of Arthur Conan Doyle’s. As with Sherlock Holmes, it is the character of half-caste Aboriginal detective Napoleon Bonaparte that bewitches the reader, plus in this case Upfield’s vivid descriptions of outback…

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (John Murray, 1927); audiobook read by Derek Jacobi (Bolinda, 2015) Derek Jacobi proves a narrator par excellence in bringing to life cases from late in the career of Sherlock Holmes; but then, that most enduringly beloved detective has always excelled as much from good delivery as from ingenuity or complexity of…