Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Sherlock Holmes Book by David Stuart Davies

The Sherlock Holmes Book
by David Stuart Davies [823 DoyYd]

This is the latest addition to a series from publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK) called “Big Ideas Simply Explained”. In this beautifully illustrated volume, editor David Stuart Davies starts with several chapters exploring the biographical background of Arthur Conan Doyle and his era in British history, as well as what went into the creation of the character of Sherlock Holmes. After that, each of the individual stories and novels in the Holmes “canon” is given anywhere from two to 8 or 10 pages of detailed background, exploring what influenced Doyle in the writing of each story, what was happening in the world of the reader at the time each story was published, and which of the characters, settings and bits of dialog are most significant (and why) to readers of the Holmesian stories.

Reading this volume really expanded my appreciation for and understanding of each of Doyle’s stories. One minor complaint would be that some stories get a great deal more background provided than others. Following the exploration of the 60 “canon” tales, there are a few addition chapters about Sherlock Holmes, including a marvelous look back at the different iterations of Holmes on stage and screen, from the very earliest adaptions in film to our current era, in which Benedict Cumberbatch, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Downey Jr. have each put their own stamp on the character. I don’t really think this is a book to be read cover-to-cover, but instead serves better as a reference volume — I would recommend reading a collection of Doyle’s original tales, then come back to this volume and read the chapters that provide background about the Doyle work — it will add layers to your appreciation of the classic stories!

[ publisher’s official The Sherlock Holmes Book web page] | [ official David Stuart Davies UK web site ]

Check out more Sherlock Holmes related titles in our Elementary booklist on BookGuide!

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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