Sherlock Holmes collection count: 50

As noted the other day, Sherlock Holmes & The Eminent Thespian makes 50 items in my collection. For a bit more than four years, approximately, that seems reasonable. I keep up with reading/watching new acquisitions without growing tired of them. If I end up with 500-600 items 40 years from now, that ought to be quite manageable. I suppose we’ll see.

For now, what do I have to show for 50 items?

The canon accounts for nearly one-fifth of my collection. (The Oxford Annotated Editions use the nine-volume structure.) Obviously this proportion will only fall, but for now a significant figure. Add The Published Apocrypha of Doyle, and work by (or in some sense approved by) ACD is a full 20%.

Of other books involving Holmes himself, I have 13 novels, and 10 collections of short stories. So far, Larry Millett’s Sherlock Holmes & The Red Demon is probably my favorite pastiche novel. Tight plotting, entertaining characterization and such atmosphere. Most are good so far, though, or at least readable; I have serious objections to aspects of The Seven Per-Cent Solution and The Italian Secretary, but even those have enough going for them I may read them again some day. So far A Monstrous Regiment of Women is the only novel that I just could not get into.

Of the story collections, most include one or two great items, at least a few clunkers and a number of “tin box” items.* I’m content to keep purchasing at these odds… Exceptions to the rule may be The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes and The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Both of these are the work of a smaller number of authors, and perhaps for this reason both seem to sustain a respectable if not exceptional quality throughout. Plus, Exploits of is (to my knowledge) the last time that Doyle’s heirs actually contributed to the Holmes industry rather than just attempting to collect rents.

All books of entirely or mostly Holmes fiction, combined, bring me to 33 items. Other books are something of a rag-bag… I have two fictional adventures of Conan-Doyle, by different authors; of these I’m very fond of David Pirie’s The Patient’s Eyes (and the Murder Rooms television episodes on DVD) and sad that two further novels seem to be it for the franchise. (I’ve read both, and will acquire them some day.)

I have read the as-advertised Son of Holmes a couple of times, and will probably pull it off the shelf yet again. The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes is a real oddball from the perspective of a Sherlock Holmes collection, but a fine novel. I just finished The Brothers of Baker Street and found it quite enjoyable, though its connection to the world of Sherlock Holmes is even more loose.

Biographies of Holmes are much more directly relevant, though I’m not certain how to classify them. (They don’t belong in non-fiction, but neither are they novels or story collections.) I can classify my two so far as “unsatisfactory,” I suppose, as I have not finished either. The flippant misogyny of The World of Sherlock Holmes offended me, while Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street just has too many inferior retellings of stories from the canon. There are more biographies out there, though, so maybe some day I’ll finish one…

I also have The Quotable Sherlock, which has in fact proved useful a time or two, and a walking guide that I picked up at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Also, I’ve got The Doyle Diary, which is another one that really stretches the bounds of the collection. But, oh well.

I don’t have precise rules for what goes in my collection, ultimately, but so far I’m sticking to narrative items of some type for non-books. I have seven total. This includes three video games, all satisfactory. Also four DVDs (or DVD sets). The aforementioned Murder Rooms is my pick of these, though I like the others well enough. The documentary I posted about recently. So far I have two of the Rathbone-Bruce films, The Secret Weapon and The Scarlet Claw, which I think are among the best of that iconic if uneven series.

I believe that’s a fair overview for now. For the moment I still don’t feel a need to publish a complete catalog of this (after all) modest collection, though if anyone is super curious feel free to get in contact. Otherwise, I suppose we will reconvene in approximately two, or four, years.

* In the canon, Watson once described to readers a battered tin box containing the many cases he recorded but for one reason or another held back from publication; someone or other subsequently wrote of a forgettable pastiche as “another from the tin box” and the phrase has stuck with me.

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