Unlike other TV shows, Sherlock doesn’t need to go to the trouble of creating new content for its tie-in books. Luckily for them, some bloke called Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 60 stories about Sherlock Holmes back in the late 19th century/early 20th century. All they have to do is repackage them with Benedict Cumberbatch’s face on the front cover.
We jest, of course, but that does essentially sum up this new release from BBC Books. The concept is that showrunners – and uber Doyle fans – Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have compiled a selection of must-read stories from the Holmes canon. These 19 stories were previously collected in a gorgeous hardback tome – which is now being released, in two parts, in paperback form. Volume One contains the first eight entries in the collection.
So what stories did Moffat and Gatiss plump for? It’s an interesting, eclectic bunch of tales, to be sure. Alongside the must-reads like Irene Adler’s appearance in ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ or the wonderfully lurid ‘The Speckled Band’, you have underrated pieces like ‘A Case of Identity’ and ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip.’ What’s more, the first two Holmes novels – A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four - are presented in their entirety. It’s quite impressive how much is packed into this trim 350-page book. You are certainly getting a multitude of mysteries for your money.
What is a little disappointing is that Moffat and Gatiss’ introductions to the stories are so brief. It would have been interesting to read their extended thoughts on these tales but all that is included is a short two-sentence preface before each entry. Conan Doyle’s words are obviously the highlight here, but it would have been nice to have some more fresh content.
Of course, while hardcore Holmesians will no doubt have these stories sitting on their shelves already, the real aim of these volumes is to introduce fans of the TV show to the great work of Conan Doyle for the first time. More experienced fans may wish skip this purchase, then, but for anyone looking to dive into the original Sherlock Holmes stories, these volumes truly are essential.
SHERLOCK: THE ESSENTIAL ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE ADVENTURES VOLUME ONE / AUTHORS: ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, STEVEN MOFFAT, MARK GATISS / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW