The Sherlock Holmes Book
Edited by David Stuart Davies and Barry Forshaw
Reviewed by Maria
October 1st saw the release of The Sherlock Holmes Book, a lovely heavy book whose cover already hints at the incredible amount of information between the covers (the US release is on October 20). It’s part of the series Big Ideas Simply Explained by DK and is all about the Great Detective and his world. David Stuart Davies and Berry Forshaw are the consultant editors of this volume which features contributions by David Anderson, Joly Braime, John Farndon, Andrew Heritage, Alex Whittleton and Liz Wyse and it is a cornucopia of Sherlockian information.
When I first opened the book, I was a bit overwhelmed. Its roughly 350 pages are brimming with text, tables, quotes, photos and graphics. Once I started reading, however, I soon discovered that there’s method in the seeming madness. The Sherlock Holmes Book offers a short introduction of Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, his friends and foes before it covers the stories, always in context of contemporary events and with helpful tables, timelines and short summaries. While most of the stories are covered by only a double page, it’s an immense joy to read for those who know the stories. Those who are unfamiliar with the Canon might find a few important plot points explained perhaps in too much detail. Nevertheless, it will not necessarily spoil the joy and excitement of reading them after this book. Knowing about a method does not mean one gets bored watching Sherlock Holmes apply it – as John Watson will be able to verify.
While the stories take up most of the book’s pages, the final part delves into the world of Sherlock Holmes and extends from there, covering the development of forensics, other crime writings, Doyle’s career beyond the Great Detective and adaptations of Sherlock Holmes.
With the amount of information available in this book, it is rather difficult to write a proper review without going too much into detail. However, I enjoy this book immensely and think it would particularly serve as a Christmas gift to young readers (or yourself, perhaps?) who have recently discovered the Canon stories. It’s most definitely a book that can be enjoyed when it’s dark and stormy outside and the comfort of home invites for an investigation of the universe of Sherlock Holmes. That is not to say that older readers might not enjoy it, but when I was reading through the book I imagined how incredibly exciting this book would be to me after just reading the stories for the first time and knowing so little of the world that each page would mean a new discovery.
Just as David Stuart Davies writes in the introduction. “It is a rich and fascinating study in Sherlock.”
The book is available via amazon (available in the UK & Germany and currently half price on preorder on amazon.com, where it comes out on October 20), Abebooks and regular book stores of your choice.
Edit: The US edition of the book features a foreword by Les Klinger. The UK version has David’s foreword.