In Big Finish’s latest Sherlock Holmes box set, Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl return as the original dynamic duo in The Master of Blackstone Grange, a three-part story which involves a crook from the Old West, a murdered barber and a dark secret that reaches up to the highest echelons of the establishment.
As we have come to expect from Big Finish’s contributions to the Holmes canon, writer Jonathan Barnes weaves another thrilling tale that, while completely original, acts as a reverent pastiche of Conan Doyle’s works - complete with the writer’s favourite trope of having an Englishman return from the US with a mysterious past. The structure also owes a debt to that most famous of Holmes stories, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
What will really stoke Holmesian’s interests is the fact that ‘Blackstone Grange’ sees the return of Sebastian Moran, Moriarty’s right-hand man. As one of the most fascinating villains from the canon, Moran is ripe for more appearances and Barnes should be commended for finding something fresh to do with the character. With Moran comes a welcome extended role for Mycroft Holmes, once again brilliantly voiced by Tim Bentinck.
Not that Barnes is simply happy to replay Doyle’s best bits. Something that strengthens the story is the character-based subplot which sees Dr Watson fall in love again - the adventure is set sometime after Mary Watson’s death. Lucy Briggs-Owen is great value as the American actress Genevieve Dumont (after Irene Adler, what is it with Holmes and Watson falling for women from across the pond?) and Barnes does a nice job of succinctly but satisfyingly exploring the connection between the pair.
Despite being three parts, The Master of Blackstone Grange takes a little while to get going but its various, as Holmes would say, ‘features of interest’ won’t fail to hold your attention. The box set comes with The Fleet Street Conspiracy, a single-disc adventure previously released at Christmastime. There are some neat connections between the two stories, which come together to tease some exciting things to come in the lives of Holmes and Watson. Just who is the new criminal mastermind who is picking up where Moriarty left off? We can’t wait to find out.
SHERLOCK HOLMES - THE MASTER OF BLACKSTONE GRANGE / DIRECTOR: KEN BENTLEY / WRITER: JONATHAN BARNES / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: NICHOLAS BRIGGS, RICHARD EARL, HARRY PEACOCK, LUCY BRIGGS-OWEN / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 30TH