Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes collection count: 96

My Sherlock Holmes collection finishes with 96 items, for reasons addressed in another post. I haven’t quite doubled it to a round 100 items, since seven years ago, but it occurred to me recently to make some closing notes anyway; why not. This very occasional project has provided interest to me for 11 years, now, and in happier circumstances I would might continue it for decades.

Obviously, since getting to 50 took about four years, and the next 46 items took several years, I have slowed down collecting. A lot of things happened to the world and to me since the middle of 2015. But also, it is not a race, and as recent weeks have demonstrated to me, I have accumulated so much stuff.

Anyway, since I have a list of collection items (chronological since the first few entries), let’s see what I have added and make notes on what interests me.

Warlock Holmes did make me laugh, although I’m skeptical about it sustaining a series; who knows. Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, this is a collection highlight. One of the best anthologies. A good mix of excellent science fiction Holmes or Holmes-inspired adventures. (This is one of the books which, silly perhaps, but I set aside for now while packing up those around it.)

I have one of the Solar Pons books. It’s okay. I would certainly pick up others if I came across them. I have missed the public library’s book sales, since the pandemic halted them; some times I didn’t find much, but some times I would find three or four items for my collection all at once, for just a few dollars total, and it made me happy.

The Trial of Sherlock Holmes comic book series is a good story with okay art. Good for you, Leah Moore (and John Reppion). People born in 1978, represent.

Terror by Night is one of the Rathbone/Bruce films, and a satisfying amusing outing. Sherlock Holmes in New York, the Roger Moore film, is of similar quality; perhaps I wrote something about that one already?

Mycroft and Sherlock, splendid like all (three so far) of the Holmes novels by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. A Study in Terror I wanted for years, I think I finally ordered this one in the Spring of 2020 because, you know, we thought the world was distressing then, so I bought myself a treat or two. It’s okay. Not the best Holmes/Ripper story, certainly not the worst. The structure is a mild novelty.

Sherlock Holmes in Modern Times, what a weird find. Maybe I already wrote about this one, too, but yeah just weird. Essentially short puzzle stories all interested in points of the law (the author’s profession), and not especially much of a Sherlock Holmes book, but well worth including in a collection of nearly 100 items just for the oddness.

Sherlock Holmes: The Beginning, an interesting choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel, and an adequate Holmes story.

The LIFE magazine special, the penultimate item in the collection, is worth highlighting just because I wanted this for years after seeing it at the supermarket and deciding it was too expensive, and hoping that I might score it cheaper somehow. I should have bought it, although in a way it worked out just as well. I ended up wishing for years that I might somehow obtain “the one that got away,” and at last to my surprise the publisher put a new printing into stores earlier this year. It was at least as expensive as ever, but I grabbed a copy. I have to say, it didn’t disappoint. In terms of editorial content, it’s nothing special; a stroll through the history of Sherlock Holmes the literary phenomenon (emphasizing the years during Doyle’s lifetime). Very competently written, but not a lot new for me. Yet it’s a wonderful artifact, lavishly designed, almost a soft-cover coffee table book. This too gave me a brief experience of happiness.

Item 96, Observations by Gaslight, I obtained only this month; an internet purchase, it arrived June 4. Having committed myself by early this year to some course of action which would involve departing without most (or all) of my possessions, I had not expected to add any more to the collection. But… without getting too far into another subject, I will just note that it’s hard at the end. Again, we thought late Spring 2020 was distressing, but wow how innocent that time seems now.

So I added one more item, a new one from Lindsay Faye. I have her two previous Holmes books as well. I think that The Whole Art of Detection is the best, and among the better class of Holmes pastiches in general. I would probably need to spend more time with the other two before deciding which is second-best, but Observations by Gaslight is good. I read it quickly and have no regrets about closing this 11-year project (among other things) with it.

As for the future, well, I wrote an entire book in some sense about how remarkable it was that one particular book collection has survived together and substantially intact almost four centuries after its founder’s demise. I indulge in some small hope that my brother, who has shown some interest in the character, might take the collection at least to browse. Probably it will end up in a secondhand shop, however, and sooner rather than later. It could just end up in a dump; I don’t know. You can’t take it with you, and it’s complicated to arrange new homes for things even without the additional complication of a reason which it’s taboo to mention. Oh well.

“Is not all life pathetic and futile? Is not his story a microcosm of the whole? We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow—misery.” (Sherlock Holmes, in “The Retired Colourman”)

Dynasty’s end*

I can’t suppose that I will give up prediction, or even political prediction, entirely. One has to act upon some kind of concept of the circumstances around us, and how they may change or not change in future. I should, though, at the least be more cautious.

To adapt a line from the master, “if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little overconfident in my powers… kindly whisper ‘JEB‘ in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you.”

* Or is it? Hardly the moment for me to make such a sweeping prediction, is it?

Ian McKellan as “Mr. Holmes”

Watching the travel sequence that opens Mr. Holmes I couldn’t help laughing a bit at repeated shots of the elderly detective frowning with disapproval, at basically everything around him, until he arrives back to his home and his bees. Having spent much of my time leading up to that moment mentally drafting criticisms of the cineplex, Valley View, the concessions, advertising, movie trailers… I could not deny the amusing incidental caricature before me.

Aided by this I have decided to skip all of that, and take the opportunity to dwell on positive sentiments. I was most pleased with Mr. Holmes, and recommend that anyone interested in seeing it before the DVD release get a move on. (Given that, based on local schedules, it does not look to enjoy a long theatrical run.)

Sherlock Holmes represents a lot of things to a lot of people, so I cannot say for certain what anyone else might expect of this film, but it is definitely a departure from such standard as exists, particularly in movies. This is a contemplative, elegiac work; it features delightful moments of humor but little in the way of suspenseful plotting.

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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.

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Sherlock Holmes in Japan

I suppose that I hoped to find Sherlock Holmes in Japan, in a small way. I certainly did not expect to encounter him in all the ways that I did.

The odd combination of Holmes and Japan has actually been, on a modest scale, established for some time as a concept. A local community of Sherlockians funded a public statue of the great man in 1988. At least two non-canon books have dispatched Holmes to Japan; one, A Slight Trick of the Mind, has been made into a forthcoming film with Ian McKellan. These are stories, however (and arguably “imaginary stories” at that), and my own itinerary did not include Karuizawa.

The only incarnation of Holmes that I was truly confident of encountering was one that I brought with me. My travel reading included the lengthy anthology The Game’s Afoot, which I found entirely satisfactory. Beyond this, I entertained some hope of returning with an additional Holmes book; I like the idea of adding to my collection when I travel so that volumes gain additional interest as a souvenir. I had note of a couple of bookstores with English-language sections, and thought possibly I might get lucky.

I did not, in my wildest dreams of Tokyo oddity, expect that beginning with my very first train ride I would repeatedly encounter Holmes in this baffling, chibi form:

So kawai

This might be a good time to link to the Japan Disclaimer

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Sherlock Holmes items #45-49

It has been a few months, I see, since I posted any update to my small collection. I’m nearly to 50, at which point perhaps I will attempt some overview of the whole for the first time. I think I’ll get caught up through 49, now, though.

I had good luck last night at the Lakewood Public Library spring book sale. (Membership in Friends of Lakewood Public Library, $2/year, permits entry to the preview sale which is helpful if you’re looking for a specific niche that might otherwise be picked over before the regular sale begins.) For $1.50 I acquired

  • The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls, by John R. King
  • The Brothers of Baker Street, by Michael Robertson
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery, by Larry Millett

This is pretty good. Three novels, all of which I had seen before but none of which I have read; I passed a handful of others that I already own or just didn’t want. King’s novel apparently teams up Holmes with Carnacki (look him up) and seems promising. The Brothers of Baker Street is a modern-day story with only a tangential Holmes connection, and as I realized after getting home this is not the first in the series. But I have wanted to try out this concept, so we’ll see how it is.

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Holmes, Bookshop notes Nov. 2014

Some updates on my Sherlock Holmes collection, with a visit to a new Lakewood business on the way…

After keeping my eye out for a copy for some time, I finally picked up A Study in Sherlock recently. This is now item #44 in my collection.

This is as good as I could have hoped; I believe it’s the best Holmes anthology I have read so far. (Maybe Exploits of challenges it, but only if two authors counts as an anthology.) Great variety, with a lot of tangential extrapolations of Holmes of a more thoughtful nature than, e.g., “let’s do a Holmes story but with Martians/ghosts/zombies.” No doubt these things can be good, but the inherent novelty of this kind of mashup wears off rapidly and I think you’ve got to work very hard to add some other merit. The inventive approaches in A Study in Sherlock, by contrast, offered both freshness of concept and, in most cases, quality of writing.

Lots of good stories here, and even a short, delightful comic by Colin Cotterill. Neil Gaiman will be the headline contributor for most people, and I enjoyed “The Case of Death and Honey” though I’m not quite sold on the premise. Perhaps I’m just nettled by any stories that revolve around “explaining” some major element of the canon that the author finds unpersuasive. I don’t think I’m fundamentally opposed to such efforts, but my reaction here was similar to my objections to The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, if not quite as intense. Anyway.

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Lost and Found Files of Sherlock Holmes

I have been accumulating comic books for nigh on a quarter-century, at this point. Strangely, though, it occurs to me today that while I generally think of “my comic book collection,” it may be that I’ve never really approached its assembly as collecting, per se. I’ve rarely emphasized completion for its own sake, and I’ve also felt very little instinct to show off my holdings… It was this latter point that really got me thinking about what makes a collection vs not, because I’ve realized that by contrast I do like the idea of showing off my nascent Sherlock Holmes collection a bit.

Sherlock Holmes book and two video games

Items 39-41

I think this could well be a semi-regular topic for this blog, in fact. We’ll see. For now, my three most recent acquisitions.

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