Sherlock Holmes seems to be everywhere these days, from books to TV to movies to comic books. I’m not complaining. Not one bit. And now, thanks to a recent court ruling here in the States, I have a strong suspicion the floodgates are going to open even wider. This may make it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, but I’m sure going to enjoy the ride.
Sherlock’s “official” birthday is observed every January 6, so on this momentous day (Happy 160th, Sherlock!) here are some new Sherlock-related gifts for fellow fans that may or may not have been missed, in no particular order. Well, not completely true… the first episode of BBC One’s Sherlock is fresh on my mind from two same-day viewings, so here goes…
BBC One — Sherlock Season 3 (television)
Season 3 of the hit BBC show won’t be available to US viewers until January 19, but it’s already out in the UK. But for US fans, where there’s a will, there’s a way. With that ultra-frustrating Season 2-ending cliffhanger episode, if you’ve just GOT to know HOW… a Google search is your best friend. I’ve now watched Season 3 Episode 1 titled “The Empty Hearse” twice… and am probably leaning towards a third viewing this week just to find even more nods and winks that I’m sure I’ve missed. I continue to be amazed at how the writers of this show find unique ways to pilfer snippets from the original Doyle tales and integrate them into the show. Some are obvious… some not so obvious. Rest assured, however, that this opening episode has some laugh-out-loud moments that are nothing but pure rewards to fans who have waited so long for answers. Without giving away any spoilers, let me just tell you that halfway into the episode is a five minute bit between Mycroft and Sherlock (in Mycroft’s office) that is priceless in both its dialogue between brothers and an amazingly well-written nod to an original Holmes mystery deduction found in Doyle’s The Blue Carbuncle.
Given the explosive popularity of the show’s two leading men, I don’t know how many more seasons of Sherlock fans can expect, but I sincerely hope this isn’t the final one. If you have to wait for the January 19 presentation date in the US, try your best to avoid all spoilers about the Season 3 opening episode… your wait will be rewarded.
The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes (book – available January 14, 2014)
I’m always on the lookout for unusual Sherlock Holmes books (like this one and this one), and The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes fits the bill. The hardcover contains two well-known Sherlock tales, A Scandal in Bohemia (the appearance of Irene Adler… The Woman), and The Blue Carbuncle (yes, the story I mentioned above that is referenced in the first episode of Sherlock Season 3). What makes this book unique is that it incorporates a number of pop-up elements. Yes, pop-ups. Scattered among the various full-color illustrations are eight pop-up creations that offer glimpses into the details of the two adventures.
In addition to the illustrations and pop-ups, the book also provides a short glossary in the back for some of the less obvious terminology, making the book a great introduction for a young reader to the original novels and short stories.
Over the years, the “Napoleon of Crime,” aka Professor James Moriarty, has been cast in TV and film by a variety of well-selected actors. Given that the man is only mentioned in two of Doyle’s original tales (interestingly matching the number of episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation appearances), it’s always enjoyable to see this nefarious character appear in other stories. I’ve read many short stories and novels that make mention of the man or have him as the primary villain, but none of those short stories or novels — NONE — can hold a candle to John Gardner’s two 1970s novels that have just been re-released.
The first book, The Return of Moriarty, explains Moriarty’s reemergence in London and covers his rebuilding of his criminal organization that he refers to as simply The Family. This is not a Sherlock Holmes tale… the man is only mentioned by name a few times. Instead, readers are provided all the details on Moriarty’s origins, his methods of control, and his criminal genius. The book uses period-authentic phrases and terms — what the included glossary in the rear of the book doesn’t clear up, the footnotes scattered throughout will. This first book is all about Moriarty regaining control and, once that control is established, finding out his plans to expand his empire. There are numerous stories going on throughout the pages, each one an individual crime that is being developed and supported by Moriarty. The book also introduces us to a new detective, Crow, who is beginning to pull together the pieces of various crimes and whispers and is on a collision course with Moriarty.
The title of the second book, The Revenge of Moriarty, tells you everything you need to know about the follow-up. Moriarty has been forced out of London (apologies for this slight spoilers) briefly, but his return has him plotting the downfall of numerous men, including Detective Crow and Sherlock Holmes. As with the first book, the glossary is helpful and footnotes provide a mix of real and fictional background details.
Sadly, John Gardner passed away in 2007 before finishing the final book in this trilogy to be titled The Revolt of Moriarty. Still, these first two books can stand alone as examples of how to do Moriarty right. If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan and have never read them, these are must-have titles to add to your library.
Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives (5-part comic book series, #1 out now)
A new five-part comic series titled Moriarty Lives has just started with the release of issue #1. The story starts up immediately after Holmes and Moriarty tumble from Reichenbach Falls. Moriarty being Moriarty, he doesn’t waste time using his Sherlock-like skills of observation and deduction to literally take the dry clothes from another man in the nearest town.
The old “This town isn’t big enough for the both of us” theme immediately follows, with Moriarty coming up against a powerful Baron who not only recognizes Moriarty, but easily defeats him a brawl. The opening of a strange mystery begins as the Baron is hunting for something of value that Moriarty now possesses.
Sherlock Holmes Sutra (book, releasing January 6, 2014)
In celebration of Sherlock Holmes 160th birthday, author Jay Ganguly has released a collection of 160 sutras, or “collection of aphorisms.” Referencing not only the canon but also the updated TV shows (Sherlock and Elementary) and dozens and dozens of other books, TV shows, movies, and more. (And, kindly enough, Ganguly has included one of the most impressive Bibliography sections in the back of the book that is sure to keep me clicking the 1-Click button on Amazon all year.)
All 160 sutras include a four-letter code so readers can easily reference the story or episode or film that the thought builds on. Some of the sutras are obvious (“When you have eliminated the impossible…”), some thought-provoking (“If Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft went bad, the world would be doomed”), and others easily debatable (“Mycroft is the guide, the teacher, while Sherlock is the hero, the pupil”). Of course, given the wide range of media the book uses as reference, there are bound to be contradictions, so take each sutra with a grain of salt.
Rounding out the book is the Holmes Mania Quotient Test — ten questions not meant necessarily to grade your knowledge of the canon, but to gauge your level of fandom. Five levels exist: Holmesfree (score 0-10), Sherlocked, Holmesaddicted, Holmesick, and the most dangerous… StockHolmes Syndrome.I scored 47, putting me at the Holmesick level. (The book also offers suggestions for each level, including but not limited to professional help!) The test is humorous and tongue-in-cheek, but my own answers have given me plenty to think about…
The Grimswell Curse (book, out now)
Titan Books has two series of Sherlock Holmes books that I continue to enjoy, and the latest volume in its The Further Adventures collection has just been released and is titled The Grimswell Curse. This is the 18th book in the series, and its narrator is actually Holmes cousin, Henry Watson, MD… no relation. This is a dark, enjoyable tale with similarities to Hounds of Baskerville — a dark moor, menacing figure, a curse, a young woman in need of assistance… you get the idea.
Some of the books in this series are getting a bit difficult to find in print but are well worth the time to hunt down (Kindle versions are easily obtainable). While many of them break with tradition and move into supernatural (Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula) or historic events (Sherlock Holmes: The Whitechapel Horrors), I’ve not found one in the bunch that hasn’t provided an enjoyable novel-length mystery. Here’s a checklist for you (including original Titan publication date) to print out if you decide to go hunting.
Be sure to keep an eye out for these new books that will be appearing early in 2014. (I’ve not yet been able to read them for purposes of a review.)
The Mammoth Book of Lost Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes (book, April 2014)
Sherlock Holmes and the Vampires of London (comic book, Feb 11, 2014)
Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes (book, Feb 11, 2014)
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter (book, Jan 14, 2014)
Sherlock Holmes 3 (movie update)
Not much recent news out there, but given the second film, Game of Shadows, generated over $500 million worldwide it seems fairly obvious that someone, somewhere, is drawing up plans for the next film.
If you’re going to be in London on January 9, 2014, you might consider making an appearance at this event hosted by MX Publishing, publisher of the Sherlock Holmes Sutra book – contest, giveaways, fellow Sherlockians. From the event’s description:
It’s Sherlock Holmes 160th Birthday this week, and what better way to celebrate than get together with other fans at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on Baker Street. Your host for this event is Jay Ganguly – from the Sherlock Holmes Society of India. Jay will be sharing fascinating insights into Holmes and India, news on the Holmes fan network in Mumbai, Delhi and beyond and extracts from her new book – The Holmes Sutra. It’s a collection of 160 mantras – some original, some from the Holmes stories – and a test of your Holmes Mania Quotient (HMQ). This is our fourth fan event at the hotel and as usual there will be a free raffle with hundreds of pounds of Holmes related prizes and plenty of chance to network with other fans.
My Other Sherlock Holmes Posts