Book Review: Rose Shepherd: Sherlock Holmes’s London – Explore the City in the Footsteps of the Great Detective
Sherlock Holmes’s London – Explore the City in the Footsteps of the Great Detective
By Rose Shepherd
As so often with Sherlockian Publications these days, Sherlock Holmes’s London is immediately remarkable for its beautiful cover. I know that one should not jump to conclusions from that alone, but the iconic profile of Holmes with the deerstalker, pipe and inverness coat, hovering like a shadow over a map of London, framed by silver floral patterns and the title of the book is quite something to look at. Picking it up, it seems almost like a story book, promising to draw one into the London of Sherlock Holmes – and it doesn’t disappoint. The book’s chapters are chosen according to different parts of London which feature in the Canon. Each chapter features a quote from the Canon and describes one part of the city and what it was famous – or infamous for at the turn of the century.
At the same time the places are connected with the according adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. These parts of each chapter represent a tour-guide part of the book, which is indeed quite helpful if you want to shadow the movement of our heroes in the Canon and surround yourself with the buildings, parks or streets which our heroes encountered.
Each chapter feature a rough map of London with all of the important locations marked by a deerstalker. The last part of each chapter describes important differences between Victorian/ Edwardian and contemporary London and therefore draws attention to the changes which the twentieth century has brought to the city. Between chapters you will find a feature, set in a different front than the rest of the book and printed on parchment coloured background, focusing on themes such as forensics, London theatre, and the Victorian fascination with the paranormal.
A multitude of contemporary photographs and illustrations as well as screenshots from several Sherlock Holmes adaptations beautifully illustrate how prominently London features in the stories and their various interpretations.
All of the referenced locations are printed in bold letters throughout the descriptive text, which is helpful if you want to quickly find a location. However, it is much more enjoyable to read through the entire book and discover new places or learn to see familiar places with new eyes. At the end of the volume there is also a list of places, which includes the postcodes as well as the according websites, if they exist.
I don’t want to go into greater detail about the content of each chapter, as it is difficult to summarise the refreshing narrative voice which guides the reader through the parallel worlds of our London and the London of Sherlock Holmes, but I do want to stress how well it is written and how it ties in little anecdotes, quotations and scenes from the Canon while simultaneously describing London with much love and admiration. For those of us who love the city, it will bring back fond memories and for those who have yet to travel to London, it will strengthen the wish to go there and to explore and walk the streets in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
The book is available online at amazon.co.uk, amazon.com (where it is currently on sale), amazon.de and Buch.de (where it’s a little cheaper than on amazon.de).
Maria teaches English Literature at Leipzig University, Germany, published a German introduction to Sherlock Holmes and is a fan of all things Holmes – but especially of the Canon stories and Sherlock BBC. Contact her at @stuffasdreams & email@example.com