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review 2018-12-21 21:51
The Annotated and Illustrated Sherlock Holmes
The Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume 1 and 2 - William S. Baring-Gould, Arthur Conan Doyle

I pulled this out intending to do my annual Christmas read of The Blue Carbuncle, but made the mistake of glancing at the introduction.  12 chapters of introduction later, I finally read The Blue Carbuncle yesterday.

 

Baring-Gould didn't so much as introduce the annotated volumes and write a short but thorough biography of not only Conan Doyle, but Sherlock, Watson (to a lesser extent) and several chapters of pure out-and-out speculation of exactly where 221B Baker Street was, the layout of the rooms (was Watson on the third floor, or the second?; did Sherlock have 2 doors out of his bedroom?), and what kinds of furniture might or might not have been there.  His cited sources include all the great 'scholars' of Sherlock Holmes: Morely, Starr, etc. and I have to say, these men needed more fresh air.

 

I'm sort of kidding, but sort of not - reading the annotations is fascinating.  These men treat Holmes as though he were not only a real life historical figure, but a static one.  The dichotomy is surreal.  For example, Baring-Gould discusses the furniture in the flat, and the it seems that if Holmes had been a real person, these men (and yes, they're all almost without exception, men) expected him to have never, ever changed or moved any of the furniture.

 

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Blue Carbuncle, as I always do, though the annotations included quite a few snide comments by one Magistrate S. Tupper Bigelow, who impressed me as a complete prat, who needed to be reminded it's a story and even Conan Doyle was allowed to take creative liberties.  There was also a whole discussion on whether or not Doyle intended to use the word commute and whether or not it implied Holmes had royal blood.  That made me roll my eyes and cry 'oh, horse sh*t' loud enough to make MT laugh.  Overall though, the rest of the annotations were thoroughly interesting, if not always informative, and they gave me a deeper context for enjoying a story that's already a firm favorite of mine.

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review 2018-12-21 21:36
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection - Arthur Conan Doyle,Stephen Fry

After one year and almost four months, our buddy read, or rather "buddy listen", of the complete Sherlock Holmes canon narrated by Stephen Fry came to an end tonight. 

 

I'm still in shock, and I'm sure grief will set in at some point, too. 

 

I've immensely enjoyed reading the stories every week and having discussions with my buddy over at KnightofAngels, and the whole reading experience was only made even better by Fry's narration of the stories.

 

It was simply the best!

(Except if you are listening to the US version of the Audible audiobook which, at the time of writing, is missing the final book in the Holmes canon...because of copyright reasons, apparently.)

 

Evidently, I'm not going to review the Holmes stories here... There is not much to say about the Holmes stories except that sometimes popular books deserve to be popular and none more so than the Holmes canon. Even tho the quality of the stories vary, as they do in any collection, they have created this world of 221B Baker Street that impressed me when I first set foot in it and has kept me fascinated on various re-reads over the decades. 

 

These stories are very much part of my personal canon of books that have defined and refined me as a reader. 

 

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text 2018-11-25 18:56
24 Festive Tasks: Door 10 - Bon Om Touk, Task 4 (Moonlighting Book Characters)
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
Nights At The Circus - Sarah Waters,Angela Carter
The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett

Three moonlighting characters:

 

1. Dr. John Watson:  The good doctor actually has a full-time practice as an MD -- which doesn't stop him from routinely going sleuthing with London's self-declared "only consulting detectivie", however.

 

Since "moonlighting" is built into the character profile of pretty much every amateur detective (and if not into theirs, at the very least into that of their sidekicks), I could probably just go on listing cozy mysteries ... but just to keep it varied, I'll add instead:

 

2. Jack Walser: Journalist by trade, who joins Sophie Fevvers's circus and moonlights there as a clown in order to be able to finish Sophie's biography (and just generally be close to her) in Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus.

 

3. Rincewind: Discworld's most hapless wizard, who is pressed into moonlighting as Twoflower's (and his luggage's) tourist guide in Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic.

 

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text 2018-11-23 17:17
24 Festive Tasks: Door 8 - Penance Day, Task 1 (Comfort Reads)
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
Poirot: The Complete Battles of Hastings, Vol. 1 - Agatha Christie
Poirot: The Complete Battles of Hastings, Vol. 2 - Agatha Christie
Gaudy Night - Dorothy L. Sayers
A Man Lay Dead / Enter a Murderer / The Nursing Home Murder (The Ngaio Marsh Collection) - Ngaio Marsh
The Clock Strikes Twelve - Patricia Wentworth
Envious Casca - Georgette Heyer
Margery Allingham Omnibus: Includes Sweet Danger, The Case of the Late Pig, The Tiger in the Smoke - Margery Allingham
The Great Detectives - JULIAN SYMONS,TOM ADAMS
The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards

It's probably no secret that my comfort reads are Golden Age mysteries -- I'm slowly making my way through the works of the members of the Detection Club, including the forgotten and recently republished ones, but most of all, I keep coming back to, again and again:

 

Arthur Conan Doyle / Sherlock Holmes: Still the grand master -- both the detective and his creator -- that no serious reader of mysteries can or should even try to side-step.  I've read, own, and have reread countless times all 4 novels and 56 short stories constituting the Sherlock Holmes canon, and am now making my way through some of the better-known /-reputed Holmes pastiches (only to find -- not exactly to my surprise -- that none of them can hold a candle to the original), as well as Conan Doyle's "non-Holmes" fiction.

 

And, of course --

 

The Golden Age Queens of Crime

Agatha Christie: Like Sherlock Holmes, part of my personal canon from very early on.  I've read and, in many cases, reread more than once and own (largely as part of a series of anniversary omnibus editions published by HarperCollins some 10 years ago) all of Agatha Christie's novels and short stories published under this name, as well as her autobiography, with only those of her books published under other names (e.g., the Mary Westmacott romances) left to read.

 

Dorothy L. Sayers: My mom turned me onto Sayers when I was in my teens, and I have never looked back.  I've read all of her Lord Peter Wimsey novels and short stories, volume 1 of her collected letters (which covers her correspondence from childhood to the end of her career as a mystery writer), and some of her non-Wimsey short stories and essays.  Gaudy Night and the two addresses jointly published under the title Are Women Human? are among my all-time favorite books; not least because they address women's position in society decades before feminism even became a mass movement to be reckoned with, and with a validity vastly transcending both Sayers's own lifetime and our own. -- Next steps: The remainder of Sayers's non-Wimsey stories and of her essays, as well as her plays.

 

Ngaio Marsh: A somewhat later entry into my personal canon, but definitely a fixture now.  I've read all of her Inspector Alleyn books and short stories and reread many of them.  Still on my TBR: her autobiography (which happily is contained in the last installments of the series of 3-book-each omnibus volumes I own).

 

Patricia Wentworth: Of the Golden Age Queens of Crime, the most recent entry into my personal canon.  I'd read two books by her a few years ago and liked one a lot, the other one considerably less, but Tigus expertly steered the resident mystery fans on Booklikes to all the best entries in the Miss Silver series, which I'm now very much looking forward to completing -- along with some of Wentworth's other fiction.

 

Georgette Heyer: I'm not a romance reader, so I doubt that I'll ever go anywhere near her Regency romances.  But I'm becoming more and more of a fan of her mysteries; if for no other reason than that nobody, not even Agatha Christie, did viciously bickering families as well as her.

 

Margery Allingham: I'm actually more of a fan of Albert Campion as portrayed by Peter Davison in the TV adaptations of some of Allingham's mysteries than of her Campion books as such, but I like at least some of those well enough to eventually want to complete the series -- God knows I've read enough of them at this point for the completist in me to have kicked in long ago.  I've also got Allingham's very first novel, Blackerchief Dick (non-Campion; historical fiction involving pirates) sitting on my audio TBR.

 

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text 2018-11-23 09:06
24 Festive Tasks: Veterans' Day/Armistice Day, Task #3
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle,Paul Hogarth
The Annotated Sherlock Holmes Volume 1 and 2 - William S. Baring-Gould, Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection - Arthur Conan Doyle,Stephen Fry
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Speckled Band - Arthur Conan Doyle
A Study in Scarlet / The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Illustrated - Arthur Conan Doyle
A Study in Scarlet - Joseph Bell, Arthur Conan Doyle

Task 3:  Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by which author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)?

 

I'm a completist and a re-reader-ist so there are a few authors I could use for this task, but really there can be only one.  And he's Scottish, so the possibly obscure movie/TV reference works.

 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Sherlock Holmes.  The former one of only two authors I'd go out of my way for the chance to have dinner with (assuming death is not an obstacle) and the latter my numero uno literary hero.

 

I have read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon multiple times and as you can see above, I own several editions of both the complete works and individual titles.  I'm pretty sure they're just the beginning too, because if I thought it was hard to pass by additional editions of Jane Austen's works (I have at least 2 of all her works, 3 of some, and I think I'm up to 4 P&P editions) it's downright impossible for me to pass by a good Sherlock Holmes - especially an older edition.

 

Even though I've read all the stories at least 4 times, there is a lot I learn every time - things I've forgotten or overlooked, or simply 'get' because of new life experiences.  This makes me hesitant to go toe-to-toe with anyone over most of the stories themselves, but I definitely consider myself enough of a 'veteran' to wade into any conversation about Holmes and Watson as characters with confidence.

 

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