Sherlock Holmes Book Reviews and News Q4 (Part 2) 2015

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Holmes Collection

With just over a month until the premiere of the BBC’s Sherlock Christmas Special, I’m sure that fans of the show are getting anxious to see how Cumberbatch and Freeman handle being tossed back to Doyle’s original setting for the pair. If you’ve not yet seen the trailer, I’m including it below so you can see what all the fuss is about. I’ve also got some news about the new season of Elementary that’s just kicked off on CBS, and a few books below that Holmes fans might be interested in checking out.

Sherlock Holmes: The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove (Titan Books, out now)

Thinking Engine

Titan Books has its new Sherlock Holmes series off to a great start, with a total of seven out now and an eighth (The Patchwork Devil out in April 2016) on the way. The latest one out is titled The Thinking Engine, and it starts out in 1895 and pits Sherlock against an advanced version of a Babbage-style device at Oxford that takes input about recent crimes and outputs a solution.

When the computing device begins to demonstrate that it can handle deduction as well as (or better than) Holmes, the newspapers (and one reporter in particular) waste no time in tearing down Sherlock and considering the possibility that police departments and detectives will be a thing of the past. Sherlock takes the threat to his importance somewhat personally, and, in typical Holmes-fashion, disappears and sulks as Watson attempts to handle the fallout as well as new crimes in the area.

I won’t reveal any more information, as fans who read the story are in for a solid surprise or two that I will not spoil. Suffice to say, Lovegrove knows his Holmes trivia and delivers a great mystery that will fans will enjoy, with plenty of winks and nods to the canon.

Nicholas Meyer’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (comic book)

Seven Percent Solution

This 5-part comic book series is almost complete, and if you missed out on the single issues I’m almost certain IDW will release a compilation at some point in the future. This story is based on a 1974 novel that takes on two famous Doyle stories, The Final Problem and The Empty House. Fans will recognize these as the story where Holmes and Moriarty go over the Reichenbach Falls and the story where he returns and provides a summary of his missing years.

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, however, tells a different story. When Watson is approached by a living, breathing Moriarty who tells him the events of these two tales are completely false, and that he’s been painted as a notorious criminal by Holmes, the good doctor doesn’t know what to make of it. But, given Holmes dependence on a seven-per-cent solution of cocaine, Watson does begin to have his own doubts about Holmes and seeks help from none other than Dr. Sigmund Freud who has a reputation for treating cocaine addiction.

Is Holmes delusional about Moriarty? And if so, what would have caused Holmes to develop such amazing skills while at the same time creating his own nemesis? It’s been a fun read spread out over many months, and I’m anxious to see how it ends as book #5 will be releasing soon.

Investigating Sherlock: An Unofficial Guide by Nikki Stafford (ECW, out now)

Investigating

There’s a lot of information about the development of the BBC Sherlock television show floating out there. With hours and hours of research, you can dig up all sorts of secrets and interviews and other minutiae. But save yourself the time and just grab a copy of Investigating Sherlock. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best-researched books out there on the BBC Show, with great interviews of the show’s creators and primary actors as well as amazingly detailed summaries of all nine episodes from the first three seasons.

With Season 4 starting soon, this is the ONE book that fans of Sherlock will enjoy going through, and I highly recommend reading through author Nikki Stafford’s guide for a particular episode and then re-watching it. There are quite a few times I saw an interaction that took on a completely new meaning. Even more often were small bits of dialogue or background scenery that I completely missed or didn’t recognize in terms of context.

Stafford nailed it, and I sincerely hope she tackles Season 4 (when it’s completed) with the same level of detail as she’s done here. My favorite part of the book? After each episode summary, she has a number of sections that break it down even further: Highlight (a bit of dialogue that just made the episode), Did You Notice? (little nods to either modern culture or some other bit of trivia that the writers or actors snuck in), From ACD to BBC (comparison of Doyle canon to BBC plot), Interesting Facts (just as it describes, and often something small you probably never noticed), Nitpicks (fallacies or continuity mistakes), and Oops (errors or blunders).

It’s an unofficial book, but Stafford should get major props for pulling together one of the best examinations of this popular show. A 5-star recommend here!

The Sherlock Holmes Puzzle Collection and The Sherlock Holmes Puzzle Collection: The Lost Cases

Puzzles 1 and 2

I love brainteasers and puzzles, so of course if they have a Sherlock Holmes theme, I’m going to check them out. The first book has 150 word puzzles divided up into four different categories of complexity–Elementary, Straightforward, Cunning, and Fiendish. The follow-up book (The Lost Cases) has 140 word puzzles also divided up into these same four categories. Here is one example from the Straightforward section (the Elementary ones are, quite honestly, almost too easy… although there are a few that have tricky wording and can snag you for a few minutes.

Straightforward:

The Dark Marriage

Holmes waved his newspaper at me one morning. “There is a curious tangle in the announcements today, my friend.”
“Is that so?” I asked. (Watson)
“We have here the announcement of a recently deceased fellow who, so it says, married the sister of his widow.”
“What the devil? He married his widow’s sister?”
“Quite so,” Holmes replied. “It appears to be perfectly accurate.”

How is it possible, given that it is not possible for the dead to marry? (Solution on page 219)

The Cunning and Fiendish puzzles are often quite difficult, and many of them require a bit of outside thinking–the kind that Holmes was known to do. If anything, going through these puzzles was fun… and I noticed that I began paying more attention to the details provided by Holmes and understanding how to separate the facts from the noise.

Note: I found the first book in the bargain bin at B&N. The second book is a relatively new release.

Elementary (CBS)

Joan and Sherlock are back together again. After losing their opportunity to work side-by-side with the NYPD, Sherlock’s father, Morland Holmes (played by John Noble!), has found his way to New York and managed to cut a deal that lets the two return to work as if the events from Season 3 never happened. But I don’t believe that… I do believe that, in Season 4, we’re going to see some repercussions from Holmes’ violence in the season 3 finale episode, and, of course, viewers are still suspicious of Morland and looking for any clues to his motives. Is it because he simply loves his son and wants to help him? Or is there something else going on? We’re only about four episodes in, so catch up (with On Demand) if you’ve missed out. Below is the Elementary trailer for Season 4 that brought a few laughs to fans. (The fact that Sherlock has no clue about the famous ’80s singer, Peter Gabriel, made me laugh. The joke about Say Anything continued through the episode.)

Sherlock (BBC)

And, of course, we’ve all got Season 4 of Sherlock starting in 2016, but up first is the Christmas Special. Below is the preview for it.

My other Sherlock Holmes-related posts:

Sherlock Holmes Book Collection Review
Sherlock Holmes Fans (Young and Old), Rejoice! New Books and DVDs!
Happy Birthday, Sherlock! (But We Get the Gifts…)
Sherlock Holmes Upgraded – The Steampunk Holmes Enhanced Book
A Sherlock Holmes Book Review – X2!
Sherlock Holmes and the Never Ending Adventures
Catch Every Appearance of Sherlock Holmes On Screen
Sherlock Holmes Book Reviews and News Q1 2015
‘Sherlock Chronicles’ Delivers the Details on the BBC Hit Show
Sherlock Holmes Book Reviews and News Q4 2015

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