I was asked by my dad to write a review on this childrens book. Written by Robert Hume and published by Stone Publishing house they had kindly sent him a copy and he passed it on to me to read.
The writers advice centre for childrens books said it was easy to read and crammed with facts, and that's exactly as I'd describe it. It has easeir language to understand than the proper books and sometimes explains things for a childs point of view, but it is still entertaining and funny for adults.
The book is, in a way, a biography of Dr Joseph Bells lifetime while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle knew him. It starts as Conan Doyle and the other students at Edinburgh Medical School are expecting a long lecture, but instead are tricked by their teacher, Dr Joseph Bell, as he tries to teach them the power of observation. The nineteen year old Doyle was impressed with Bell's powers of deduction and observation and, while working with him, occasionally wrote down the conversations between Bell and his patients. At the time they were just as keep-sakes but later they were to inspire him to create his first stories for the Strand Magazine with Sherlock Holmes. He wrote in a letter to Bell I have tried to build up a man who pushed the thing as far as it would go.
The book is full of facts about Dr Bells influence on the medical practise of the day and also gives a graphic account of conditions in Edinburgh at the time and the reason it was known as Aulde Reakie.
I learnt a lot reading this and I recommend this book to ages 11+ and expect that adults will like this book as much as I did.
Mark Guest (12 yrs)
Dr Joseph Bell. The original Sherlock Holmes
ISBN 0-9549909-0-0 Price £4.99
Published by Stone Publishing house
17 Stone House
North Foreland Road
Kent CT10 3NT
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Have you ever had a bright idea for an original article concerning some obscure, but interesting item of Holmesian interest, only to be struck with doubts as to its originality? If so, where would you go to find out? I can now tell you! Geraldine Beare has compiled an index of all Writings About the Writings that have been published in the London Sherlock Holmes Journal for the last fifty years - since its inception, in fact. No item has escaped her eagle eye. Here you will find not only every title and author listed, but also a full subject index of articles, letters and editorial remarks. What makes this index really valuable, is that it has been produced complete with the reproduction of all the 1952 to 2002 editions of the journal, and has been put together in compact-disc form (CD-ROM).
Suppose you have a sudden brain wave concerning the Master's use of disguise. The subject index is your first call. Under disguises / impersonations, no fewer than eight entries are listed, published between 1962 and 1994.
The middle section of the index is entitled, The Media, News and Reviews Index, subdivided into book reviews; computer software; film news / reviews; newspaper / journal articles; radio news / reviews; records / cassettes; television news / reviews; theatre news / reviews and videos / CD-ROM's. This is a formidable list and full of interest. Did you know that John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson recorded The Blue Carbuncle ? Then they went on to The Case of Identity and Charles Augustus Milverton, The Dying Detective and The Empty House. In the summer of1983, when both men must have been of a fair age, they tackled Silver Blaze (that is one I would love to acquire). It was reviewed in the Journal in the summer 1983 edition, Page 34. What a gem!
Television has played a large part in the recent popularity of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Here are listed reviews of 52 television screenings, of which four concern The Hound of the Baskervilles. A total of 46 theatrical productions have taken place on the boards. Their venues and names of the actors playing the leading roles are all here for you to see. Again, Hound scores heavily with reviews of six productions in towns as far apart as Keswick and Oxford. The Speckled Band, which went no further north than Leicester, has four to its credit.
This is a major reference tool for any Holmesian scholar, and will be of great help to both aspiring and accustomed writers. Its strength lies in its clarity, comprehensiveness and ease of use. For these reasons, it could well become indispensable for those researchers `electronically enabled.' Finally, a very comprehensive review of the complete CD-ROM and its use has been undertaken by one Randall Stock and this may be seen at http://members.aol.com/shbest. Stock gives it an over-all rating of `Excellent.' I heartily congratulate Geraldine on a masterly reference work, and George Vanderburgh for producing it.
By Shirley Purves
We are informed that the complete CD-ROM, available in Windows or Macintosh format, is available from George A. Vanderburgh, The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, P. O. Box 204, Shelburne, Ontario, Canada L0N 1S0 firstname.lastname@example.org at a cost of £65.00, inc. postage & packing
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John H. Watson with a Scottish accent ... well, why not? After all, he was born in Scotland and it could well be that his second name is Hamish. Anyway, this how that amazing actor Roger Llewellyn reveals the man in a forceful play written by David Stuart-Davies. As the auditorium lights dim, we are immediately introduced to a melancholy Sherlock Holmes, returning from the funeral of a great friend, whom one soon realises is that of Watson. Holmes' mind roams over their lives together and he reminisces about the characters they met along their fascinating and adventure strewn past as he talks to Watson as if he were still in the room with him.
A small group of Poor Folk drove to The Landmark Theatre in Ilfracombe, to see this RADA trained man of many parts portray no less than twenty-four slices of Holmes' life. It was accomplished by changes of demeanour, facial expression, voice, coats and headwear, and, above all, character portrayal. Scenery was simple but effective a hat-stand a chair, a table, a lamp and a long curtain. Each action became a cameo of a plot, so realistic as to make one forget that the same person was acting each new role every time.
A particularly memorable scene occurs when Holmes tells Watson of his escape from the Reichenbach Falls. The clever use of lighting transforms the stage curtain into a rippling cascade of reality, as Holmes struggles for his life. Moriarty came to visit him, of course: a mean, trembling, sinuous creature swearing vengeance; Roger transformed again.
The end is very moving, though I would not spoil your pleasure by revealing it. Suffice to say, there were deep sighs and even a tear or two, as indeed there were when Holmes related his awful childhood to the mirage Watson.
After the performance, Roger came to meet us and to talk of his busy life. His mastery of disguise on stage is such that we passed a youthful, tall and slim man in the foyer without recognising him as the elderly Holmes we had just seen on stage. Gareth Armstrong directs the play, and Roger is now touring the States and Australia, but he will be back. I can only say, go and see this magnificent portrayal, an evening of nostalgia, sadness and delight, if you get the slightest opportunity. A one man tour de force.
Reviewed by Shirley Purves
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Edited by J.R. Campbell & Charles Prepolec.
Mad for a Mystery Publications, Calgary, 2002. 96 pp.
One of the editors describes this publication as a journal, and I suspect that more will be issued if sufficient material is received. As the title suggests, this is a collection of pastiches, of which there are six. The best, in my opinion, is 'A Slaying in Suburbia', by Gerry Kelly, whose work has already been mentioned in The Torr. The story concerns the alleged murder by shooting by one man of his neighbour over a trifling domestic dispute. The accused protests his innocence, Holmes is called to investigate, and is soon interviewing another neighbour, who also owns a gun, although it is only an air rifle. A tale of espionage, assassination and a criminal genius to rival Professor Moriarty ensues, brilliantly solved by Sherlock Holmes.
'The Case of Vamberry, the Wine Merchant', by James R. Stefanie, is the author's version of the case which was referred to by Holmes in 'The Musgrave Ritual'. Mr. Vamberry has disappeared, but Holmes soon discovers his fate, which is not totally unexpected. The reason behind it is rather more ingenious, involving smuggling and politics.
'The Adventure of the Lodger's Secret', by Kristin Vichich, begins with undertones of 'The Veiled Lodger' and 'The Red Circle', but a completely different story to either unfolds. A rather sordid tale (his words) is unravelled by Holmes, who discovers that the lodger's secret is indeed a strange one.
The next story, 'The First Mate's Jacket', is by J.R. Campbell, one of the book's editors. A ship has sunk off Falmouth, the only survivors being a Mrs. Stanstead, whose husband was lost with the ship, and the first mate. An enquiry is held, but as there seems to have been no crime or negligence involved, it is adjourned. But Holmes, who happens to be in the town on another case, is not convinced, and decides to investigate. He discovers that the true facts are completely different from the evidence given at the enquiry, but I must not reveal the ending, which is quite unexpected.
If the title of Peter H. Wood's pastiche, 'The Case of Lady Sannox', sounds familiar, it is because Conan Doyle wrote a short, non-Holmesian, story with the same title, although it is not attributed here. It would help if you were to read this first. Suffice it to say that the author picks up the story where Doyle left off, with Holmes first investigating what happened in this tragic and gruesome case, and why, then going on to became involved in the aftermath and its no less tragic ending.
The final story, 'The Adventure of the Tired Captain', by Bob Byrne, is unusual in that the main characters are Arthur Conan Doyle and the actor William Gillette. They decide to assist the police in discovering what has become of an army officer who checked into a London hotel and then vanished. In the guise of Holmes and Watson they present themselves at the local police station and proceed to explain their theory to the sceptical inspector who is in charge. Needless to say, they are eventually proved right. If, again, the title seems familiar to you, that is because it was referred to as one of the untold cases in 'The Naval Treaty'. Also, the explanation to a similar, true case was given by Conan Doyle in 1929, and is well documented in several books, including Richard Lancelyn Green's The Uncollected Sherlock Holmes.
The excellent illustrations are by Phil Cornell, who will be known to many as the Expedition Artist of The Sydney Passengers. There are, unfortunately, a number of typographical and other errors in the book, which is rather surprising given that one of the authors is also joint editor.
The book is available to those in the USA direct from the publishers at Suite D308, 3805 Marlborough Drive N.E., Calgary AB, T2A 5M4, Canada. The cost is $10 by surface mail or $12 airmail, while in Canada the price is Can$17, surface mail only. In the UK, Europe and the rest of the world it is $12 surface, $14 airmail. Cheques or drafts should be made out to Mad for a Mystery Publications.
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compiled and edited by David W. Barber.
Quotable Books, Toronto, 2001.
ISBN 0-920151-53-1. £7.95 Cardback, 118 pages.
If you have ever searched through the Canon in an attempt to find from which story a particular quotation came, or to find the exact wording of one, or just wanted an appropriate quotation for a certain occasion, then this book should fit the bill.
We all know that Sherlock Holmes never said, "Elementary, my dear Watson", but here you will find that he did use the word "elementary" in several other phrases. Then there is the famous, "You know my methods"; I was surprised at the number of times Holmes said this.
There is a useful introduction by the author, in which he asserts that Holmes could not have solved the Abernetty case by observing the depth to which the parsley had sunk in the butter. The quotations are liberally illustrated with Sidney Paget drawings, and there is an index to help you find what you are looking for. But it is just as delightful to browse through the quotations - perhaps to test your own or a friend's knowledge of their origins.
The book is available at the
sterling price shown above from:
Windsor Books International, The Boundary, Wheatley Road, Garsington, Oxford OX44 9EJ,
or in North America from Sound and Vision, 359 Riverdale Avenue, Toronto, Canada M4J 1A4 at $14.95.
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by Mark Campbell
The Pocket Essentials, 2001
18 Coleswood Road, Harpenden, Herts., AL5 1EQ
Price in UK: £3.99. ISBN 1-903047-68-4
In these days of publication galore of paracanonical and pericanonical pastiches, parodies and the like, I personally found it most refreshing to peruse Mark Campbell's "pocket essential" on Sherlock Holmes. This is a slim paperback of 96 pages which concentrates on basic knowledge, almost in a "Who's Who" style.
There is a foreword by Richard Lancelyn Green. This is followed by an introduction (two and half pages) entitled "Please continue your most interesting statement" in which the author presents the background of the Canon. The next chapter (3 pages) is a simplified biography of Arthur Conan Doyle.
The piËce de rÈsistance is a concise review of the 5O adventures of the great consulting detective which make up the Canon. Each adventure is very briefly reviewed by the author under the following headings: a one-sentence rÈsumÈ, date, characters, locations, recorded (canonical) and unrecorded (untold) cases, Holmes and Watson (character details, mannerisms, etc.), elementary (unrelated inspired deductions), quotable quote, disguise, problems, observations and verdict (a personal opinion with a mark out of 5). All this in .....51 pages!
The next chapter deals with pastiches and parodies (about 3 pages). Then comes another feat: an alphabetical and most informative checklist (about 21 pages) of over 180 actors who have impersonated Holmes in films and TV Series as well as on stage.
I was disappointed by the end chapter entitled "Reference material". The recommended versions of the Canon include only the current cheap editions (Murray's and Doubleday's are not mentioned). Then follows a short list of Conan Doyle's non-Holmesian fiction which seems out of place here. Only one Sherlock Holmes "magazine" is mentioned (Guess which one?). Finally, there is a list of 24 websites for the internet maniac. But not a word about the existence, the activities or the publications of the numerous Sherlock Holmes societies across the world - obviously, an oversight.
Of course, this paper back is essentially a "beginner's book" on Sherlock Holmes, not a scholarly treatise. Nevertheless, Holmesian veterans may enjoy reading it and they may even find some challenging parts (particularly the chapters on the Canon review and on the actors checklist). At £3.99, this booklet is a bargain, considering the current price inflation on books. All in all, I would recommend it.
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Written and illustrated by Gerard M. Kelly
I discovered Mr. Kelly's books on his well-designed website and, having read and liked the free story on it, I ordered a copy of The Riddle of the Carstairs Legacy. This concerns a young man, Andrew Newton, who will inherit a large estate from an unknown benefactor if he can solve a series of riddles. The trouble is that, because of a delay in his being informed of this bequest, he has only four days left in which to claim it. Naturally, he comes to Holmes with his problem, and with the help of Dr. Watson they set about answering the riddles.
These are all most ingenious and, to me at least, baffling but between them they succeed with all but the final, vital part of the message, which cannot be deciphered without a flying visit to the estate of Northcliffe Grange, near Cambridge, before the time limit expires. After a false start all is revealed, and they hurry back to London. But they are delayed by bad weather, and reach the solicitor's office just too late. But wait. Mr. Kelly (or is it Holmes?) still has a trick up his sleeve, but I won't spoil the story by revealing it.
As I am hooked on locked room stories, I also bought The Mystery of the Locked Study. Here Mycroft's friend Captain Cavendish has been found dead in his study, apparently from gas poisoning. The room is not only locked, and bolted on the inside, but the only key is still inside, and the window is closed. Cavendish had recently lost his wife, and was in poor health. An obvious suicide? Lestrade thinks so, but Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes are not so sure. You will be cleverer than me if you can deduce what happened, and you will also enjoy Holmes's deductions about the dead man made from a study of the room.
The two stories each have the
authentic period flavour, and at £3.99 each will not break the
bank. See Mr. Kelly's accompanying advertisement for information
on how to buy these and other books, which he both writes and
illustrates, and for details of his special offer. Overseas
readers can ascertain the price in local currency from the
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The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, Ontario, 2000
ISBN 1-55246-228-5, 261 pp, US $34
I was flattered when our respected Editor asked me to review his book Disjecta Membra. It is a hardback, impeccably printed in Canada with an eye-catching and startling dust cover by the famous French caricaturist Jean Pierre Cagnat. (This immediately intrigued me as I, too, have been the subject of his clever pen.) There are a number of caricatures of Eric throughout the book all immediately recognisable. I found the book so interesting that I couldnt put it down I lost about two days gardening.
The book contains 14 pastiches and 18 essays, so I cannot attempt to give details. I must say, however, that they could all have been written by Sir Arthur himself. Erics knowledge is encyclopaedic. Did you know, for example, that "Trial by Battle" was legal until 1819? You dont know what "Trial by Battle" is? Then get Erics book and find out. Another pastiche deals with "The Surplus Sovereigns" a bank found it had a surplus of them, with no idea whence they came! And did you know that ground glass is useless if you want to kill someone by introducing it into their food? (Modern junk food might be better.) There are many such odd and interesting facts in Erics pastiches.
The final third of the book consists of 18 essays, "Holmes Under the Lens", and they make fascinating reading. The range of subjects is enormous, as one would expect from such an erudite person as our Editor. Consider for yourselves "Watson was a Love Child", "The Cornish Language Problem", "Alexander Holder Banker or Buffoon?" This latter essay and"After the Beryl Coronet" are all about banking and, not surprisingly, well informed; after all, Eric was a banker. I intend to give him a clay pipe so he can check "The Three Pipe Problem". He used his briar to check Holmess statement that a three pipe problem would take fifty minutes; Eric found it could take up to an hour and fifty minutes. (It must be mentioned here that, when on The Cornish Horror Weekend, it was Erics pipe that set off the fire alarms in the hotel.)
This book is a must for all lovers of Sherlock Holmes. I commend it to you all.
NOTE The price quoted is for orders from the Canadian publisher at 20, Owen Sound St., Shelburne, Ontario, Canada L0N 1S0. e-mail: email@example.com
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Privately printed, 56 pages plus index, £11.90 post paid (USA £13.00 or $26.00, Europe £12.40 or $24.80, Japan £13.30 or $26.60)
Brian Pugh is a member of The Poor Folk Upon the Moors but, more importantly for readers of his book, he is also the Curator of The Conan Doyle (Crowborough) Establishment. I cannot pretend to be particularly knowledgeable on his subject, but even a brief glance at the content shows that a considerable amount of work and research has been put into the book, and I doubt whether anything so comprehensive has been attempted before. In his introduction the author says, "The object of this monograph is to collect in chronological order the events of the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. . . . also his family. No doubt some scholars will dispute some of the dates stated, and I have accordingly listed . . . the works that have been consulted." There are no less than 54 of these sources.
The first half of the book contains a detailed chronology of the major and minor events in the life of Sir Arthur and his family. This is followed by sections on his family, his homes, a bibliography, and lists of his miscellaneous works and contributions to various journals. Finally, there is a number of well-reproduced photographs of ACD at various times of his life.
This is, by its nature, a book for consulting rather than straight reading, and Brian has succeeded in his intention. His work deserves to take its place as one of the standards on the life and achievements of the man who did so much more than the creation of Sherlock Holmes.
The book, which is A4 size with card back and
acetate front, is available direct from the author at:
20, Clare Road, Lewes, Sussex, BN17 1PN. United Kingdom.
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