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Conan Doyle's other works

Now I suspect the vast majority of people are aware of Arthur Conan Doyle purely through his Sherlock Holmes stories. I am as guilty of this as the next person. Aside from the Holmes stories I have read ACD's autobiography, a few of his Round the Fire Stories, some of The Stark Munro Letters and a part of A Duet.

From someone who can count himself amongst Conan Doyle's biographers this is an uncomfortable admission. I feel that I have failed the great man and have, to a certain extent, justified his dislike of Holmes.

Therefore I make an appeal. To those of you, like me, who have read little else of Conan Doyle - make the effort to read at least one of his other works. If you have, make a comment and let me know what you recommend and why.

New chapter complete

The new chapter for my book is complete. It features a few pictures of various parts of Undershaw taken over the last few years. All pictures feature with the permission of The Undershaw Preservation Trust. My thanks to them.

Banned Holmes

In light of the recent banning of A Study in Scarlet in part of Virginia (details here) I was wondering what other Holmes stories could be subject to sudden bans.

Perhaps we shall see the following:

  1. The Five Orange Pips being banned from Ku Klux Klan gatherings.
  2. The Adventure of the Speckled Band  for cruelty to snakes
  3. The Adventure of the Creeping Man for condoning experiments with monkeys/primates
Any other that are candidates for such treatment?

An Entirely New Country - Latest

My latest book will now feature a new chapter. This chapter will be a series of photos taken inside Undershaw over the last few years. They will serve to illustrate the damage that is being done by both vandals and the elements.

I also have high hopes that my guest foreword will be completed within the next couple of weeks. All that then remains will be the sorting out of the legal side of things.

Finished

I finished reading Barefoot on Baker Street on Friday evening. My review should appear in December's Sherlock Holmes Journal. If, for any reason, it doesn't make the cut or gets trimmed, I shall post the full version here.

Current Reading

I am currently working my way through Barefoot on Baker Street by Charlotte Anne Walters.

At this point I am about half way through it and a lot has happened. Regrettably my review is destined for The Sherlock Holmes Society of London (for possible inclusion in December's Sherlock Holmes Journal) so I must limit my comments here.

So far it is keeping me interested. There are certainly aspects about it that I am not happy with but they are outweighed by the positives thus far.

The book is released in paperback on September 20th. The Kindle version is available now.

The Dark Detective - Review of issues 1 - 5.

I was recently sent the first five comics in The Dark Detective series by series artist Phil Cornell. Readers of this blog with good memories will recall that Phil provided the cover illustration for my book Close to Holmes and has furnished me with a suitable hound for the cover of my next book (due in December).

I have to say that I have read all five issues and they are excellent. Of course comic versions of Holmes are not new and only recently we have had comic book versions of the first three of Conan Doyle's Holmes novels.

These new comics (which are not from the authors of the aforementioned books) are in a similar style but present us with original stories and, as the name implies, a much darker and unstable Holmes. To my mind they can be described as Holmes meets Hammer Horror.

Issues 1,2,3 and 5 concern a running story involving Holmes's encounters with a secret society. These same issues contain a parallel story with Moriarty. I say parallel because at this stage the two great opponents are yet to really tread on each other toes. Issue 4 takes us to one side to delve into the world of Mycroft Holmes as he introduces us to a number of stories from his government archive. This issue in particular reminded me of those Hammer style shows where Vincent Price or Peter Cushing appeared as some kind of patrician story teller who introduced a number of horror tales - all of which had some kind of moral message.

An interesting aspect to the tales is how often Watson is treated badly by Holmes and how much this, and Watson's tendency to shrug the insults off, annoys Watson's wife Mary. I found his both amusing and realistic as Conan Doyle always painted Mary Watson as rather too indulgent of her husband's tendency to rush off with Holmes at a moments notice.

I heartily recommend this series and am very much looking forward to those that follow. However I'm not sure about Moriarty with a beard.

Further details Here

Book review - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the Cinema

I finished reading this book last night and I have to say I was rather impressed. The book begins with a look at Arthur Conan Doyle’s life (albeit at a relatively high-level) before moving on to look at the silver screen’s attempts to bring his work to the masses.


It is important to stress that this book does not just look at Sherlock Holmes (although the majority is Holmes). The book also looks at attempts to dramatise The Lost World and Brigadier Gerard.

The author is not afraid to say what he thinks and he roundly criticises some attempts to adapt Conan Doyle’s work. However he also hands out praise where it is due. In this the book is very even-handed. The author is also not afraid to tackle the light-hearted efforts such as Young Sherlock Holmes or Without a Clue.

The author’s particular likes and dislikes are plainly evident. It is clear that he has great affection for Basil Rathbone and considerably less for aspects of performances by those that followed him. Certain aspects of Jeremy Brett and Peter Cushing’s outings as Holmes come in for consistent criticism.

However it needs to be born in mind that this book looks at cinema not television. There are some references to Holmes on the small screen but there is no in-depth analysis of Brett’s turn as Holmes or, for that matter, the efforts of Ronald Howard or Douglas Wilmer. The most these actors get are the odd paragraph and then only when it serves to make a point in relation to a big screen outing.

The biggest downside is the book’s age. As a result it contains nothing after Without a Clue. Therefore as a guide to Conan Doyle at the cinema it is out of date. I feel it would have benefitted from looking at television as well but it does what it does very well.

Which Sherlock Holmes stories are crying out to be made?

Now I won’t pretend that my knowledge is flawless in this respect but there are Sherlock Holmes stories that have not been dramatised or have been dramatised badly.

Examples of poorly dramatised stories include The Mazarin Stone and The Three Garridebs. Granada went so far as to slam these two stories together with appalling results.

The problem of course is that many of the stories do not lend themselves to dramatisation. Cinema was in its infancy when Conan Doyle was penning the last of the Holmes stories and of course he was not writing them with future dramatisation in mind. Stories such as the two above and The Sussex Vampire require a certain amount of padding before they can provide the amount of viewing time the average audience expects.

In my opinion, one of the stories crying out to be made is Black Peter. Which ones do you favour?

Next book for review

I'm about two-thirds of the way through the following book:

I have enjoyed it very much so far and have learned from it. Full review to follow as soon as I have finished it.

Book update

An Entirely New Country is very close to completion now. The index is being worked on and the wheels are in motion for all other outstanding requirements. All being well it is on course for the December 5th release date.

Resonance 104.4 Radio Documentary

So did any of you listen to the documentary last month?


I'd be interested in any feedback/questions. I mean this in relation to the programme as a whole not just my parts.

Radio silence

Apologies for the lack of activity. Normal(ish) service will resume from next week.