Sherlock Holmes is, arguably, the most popular and beloved character in English literature. Since his debut in 1887, 'the Great Detective' has enchanted readers around the world. In time, the Holmes found in the four novels and 56 short stories was complimented by radio and cinematic versions including William Gillette, John Geilgud, Basil Rathbone, Douglas Wilmer, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey and Benedict Cumberbatch. Many books have been published seeking to analyze, explain, explore and celebrate this most singular character. Dave Thompson's SHERLOCK HOLMES FAQ, a 2013 Theatre & Cinema Books release, is the latest such tome, modestly claiming it's EVERYTHING LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD'S GREATEST PRIVATE DETECTIVE.
Thompson's book is an informative, entertaining guide to the Holmes phenomenon. Leisurely paced, the book first explores Conan Doyle's early life and the events and influences that led him to put pen to paper. Thompson then takes the reader through the publication of the various short stories and novels. He interweaves summaries of each with biographical details on Conan Doyle. In time, various Holmes' plays were produced as were motion pictures and radio programs featuring Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, Thompson covering all such productions with a critical yet affectionate eye. He is equally as candid about Conan Doyle's life and times including Doyle's love/hate relationship with his creation, Doyle's sojourn into Spiritualism, etc. Lastly, Thompson examines different Holmesian off-shoots such as Solar Pons, etc.
The book is illustrated with various b&w photographs, illustrations, cover art and posters showing Doyle, scenes from the canon, various actors/actresses, etc. Interestingly enough,the cover isn't a Paget illustration of the 'literary' Holmes but a pix of Basil Rathbone in costume.
As indicated above, Thompson casts a wide net. The result - SHERLOCK HOLMES FAQ - is an appealing study of creator and creation. Some new info, some new insights; a fun read. Recommended.
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