I am a huge fan of the Derek Jacobi Sherlock Holmes audiobooks. Having received four of the nine audiobook sets for free as review copies, I spent my own money on buying the rest. Sir Derek Jacobi is perfect as Holmes, Watson and any other character required of his extremely versatile voice. He doesn't just read the stories, he acts them. I would find it impossible to make a better choice of narrator. And, as Sir Derek has recorded every single one of the Holmes stories, I don't have to.
This is the very first Sherlock Holmes story, in which Doctor John Watson returns to London following an injury sustained in Afghanistan and finds himself fast running out of money. He decides he needs to find someone to share an apartment with, and is soon told about a strange fellow at the local medical university who doesn't seem to actually be studying for any qualification but rather pursuing some very odd studies for some purpose he won't divulge. He also wants to share apartments with someone, but as of yet no-one has taken him up on the offer. Watson ignores the warnings and the two of them take up residence at 221B Baker Street.
At first Watson is intrigued and then frustrated by not knowing what his new flatmate actually does for a living, and why people keep coming to the apartments and asking him questions. Then, after ridiculing out loud an article on the science of detection that he finds lying about, he discovers that Holmes was actually the author of the paper and the reason he keeps meeting people in the apartments and asking Doctor Watson to keep to his room whilst he does so is that he is actually a consulting detective - one of a kind, he explains - who can solve most problems without ever having to leave the building.
But leave the building Holmes must do, when two of Scotland Yard's finest - Inspectors Gregson and Lestrade - come calling, asking for assistance on a case of murder. Holmes invites Watson to see first hand why the article on detection was not the rubbish he thought it was, and soon starts putting his techniques into practice.
This is a very good introductory story, but those not already familiar with it may well be puzzled as to why it comes to a conclusion at the end of the second disc and then goes into another story set in Utah and involving a less than savoury depiction of Mormons, and no Holmes or Watson. One and a half discs later the story comes to an end and, if the listener had not already realised, it becomes evident that the story we have been listening to is the story of the murderer and the reasons for his acts. It's something that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does again, though in a shorter form and more integrated into the main story, in Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of the Four (BBC Audio)
. Thankfully, we do get a half-disc more of Holmes and Watson filling in the blanks as a denouement to both stories.