We have to ask, is there any point in us reviewing the stories contained within this collection? Many of them are over 100 years old and have been covered so many times before that it seems somewhat redundant for us to really go into the merits of any particular story. Suffice it to say that the ones they’ve picked are the better Sherlock Holmes stories and are quite a good way to introduce new fans.
The book is admittedly pretty well designed; it does a good job of conveying the modern Victoriana that Sherlock does so well, and if you were giving this as a gift it would honestly be a pretty nice thing to have (It doesn’t work as a stocking filler though; even Mycroft’s stockings would be challenged by this tome.)
But now we come to the real selling point of the book: each story features an individual introduction by the Sherlock creative duo Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. However, the issue with this is that the sum total of their contributions runs to around 600 words. We counted. The introductions are there, but if you ask us any introduction that runs to a mere 14 words is not much of one. Call us crazy but we expected more for a £20 price tag.
The fact is that this low level of input makes the whole thing come across as one hell of a cynical cash-grab for the Christmas market. Possibly the final nail in the coffin is that BBC Books themselves did this very thing a few years ago, with a range of books (including longer introductions by Moffat, Gatiss et al) that contained the complete stories. That collection is still available if you know where to look (and probably cheaper!).
The problem with this book in a nutshell is that dedicated fans will have most likely read all this stuff already, while new fans have so many alternatives (from lavishly illustrated or annotated volumes to the cheap and cheerful editions) as a good gateway to the stories. This, sadly, makes the whole endeavour seem rather pointless.
SHERLOCK: THE ESSENTIAL ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE ADVENTURES / AUTHOR: ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 12TH