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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
These four short stories are reasonably true to Conan Doyle's original Holmes, not quite as good as his best known, but good enough for a casual fan of the great detective. John Taylor's writing is in keeping with the late Victorian style, slightly verbose at times but not to the point where it will ruin the enjoyment. I was worried that with Benedict Cumberbatch reading, the stories would be set in present day but thankfully this is not the case. One criticism that I had was that the cases aren't particularly complicated and I found myself reaching the solution long before the end (with the exception of the final, 'The 10.59 Assassin', which I found a little silly). They won't mystify like Conan Doyle's tales, with the stories perhaps focused more on action than mystery.

The readings by Cumberbatch are wonderful; he is eloquent and clear throughout, reading with great enthusiasm, and has a good voice for story-telling. He 'narrates' as Watson but then does all of the voices, of Holmes himself, but also the other acquaintances whose paths cross his own. I found myself captivated by his different characters, from West Country train guards to an American businessman (though the West Country accents do seem to all roll into one if you listen to the stories in close proximity!). I couldn't help but smile at his Cockney villain voice in the first story and laugh at his imitation of a female voice in the later. It is one of the best performances - and performance here, rather than reading as he very much acts the characters - I've heard on audiobook. I felt that there was also some humour written in to the stories, and Cumberbatch draws this out expertly, delivering the puns and quips with perfect pacing.

At roughly 30 minutes a story, these make a pleasant listen for short journeys. While devoted fans of Holmes may not return for repeated listens, the real joy here is the reading. Benedict Cumberbatch's performance really is excellent and I would recommend the audiobook on the strength of this.
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on 23 July 2013
This is a five star audiobook because of the 'voice' of Benedict Cumberbatch. He speaks English the way it should be spoken: with perfect diction and a soothing tone. I would have bought it even if he were reading out his Waitrose shopping receipt! One weakness is John Taylor. Is that a pseudonym of a well-known novelist? Taylor's stories are inferior to the ones that the great Conan Doyle gave to the world. However, if you are buying this for the aural equivalent of the finest Belgian chocolate, then you are in for a treat!
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having watched Sherlock I, probably along with half the country, delved into Arthur Conan Doyle with a passion. I've loved all of his short stories and so was looking forward to hearing these four stories with anticipation. Unfortunately, although Benedict Cumberbatch reads them brilliantly, the stories are a let down.

Written by John Taylor (which isn't immediately obvious from the cover), each story is a good imitation of Conan Doyle - accurate portrayal of Holmes and Watson, good sense of period etc - but the plots are very weak and the culprit is obvious within the first five minutes(apart from the 10.59 assassin, which is the best story).

So why three stars? Well, the reading is absolutely fantastic, with Cumberbatch tackling the accents of Cockney villains, west-country railwaymen, Reverends and Americans with aplomb.

Strangely, the weak plots coupled with the brilliant reading actually make this a very good audio book to put on when you're doing something else - cooking, cleaning etc - as you don't have to concentrate too hard to follow it.
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on 21 April 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am an absolutely avid Sherlock Holmes fan and I am not a complete purist in terms of how it should be adapted, that said every story that I have read that wasn't written by Sir Author Conan Doyle has failed to impress me, I have always found the stories to be trying far too hard to be like the originals without capturing Holmes' inner essence. That said when I saw that Benedict Cumberbatch was reading this story I thought I would give it ago. I absolutely loved his interpretation of a modern day Holmes and it is with that back drop that I am reviewing this audio book, a format in which I am considered a complete novice, in fact this is my first ever reading of a novel in this format.

Benedict Cumberbatch's reading voice is absolutely fantastic, really brought it to life for me, if I were reviewing on that alone I would happily give it five stars. Unfortunately I am not. To be honest the stories that accompany this aren't great, they aren't awful, just not great. I wanted to like them more, I really did but I guess they do suffer with being a touch too short for my liking. I would suggest though that they are a great way to waste an hour or so.
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on 13 December 2010
For all those searching for 'new' Sherlock Holmes stories, this new collection is a real find. Written by John Taylor, a well known writer and radio producer, Dr Watson introduces and recounts four `new' stories that have up till now remained a mere collection of random notes kept in a locked cedarwood, chest -` a box of secrets', which he has recently brought to light. All four stories are tremendously atmospheric and echo the flavour and power of the originals whilst feeling unique in themselves - not just an attempt to merely pastiche. To give the collection an added period feel, two have a railway theme.

All four stories present tantalising puzzles for the willing reader. In ' The Conundrum of Coach 13' Holmes is faced with what appears, on the face of it, to be an impossible robbery of gold bullion from a secured London to Bristol train. Other stories include Holmes experimenting with the science of ballistics, wrestling with a baffling theft from a vicarage and, perhaps my favourite, a particularly a strange murder near the railway, the solution to which is highly ingenious.

The casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, as the reader, is a masterstroke as it gives the stories a fresh contemporary feel whilst the quality of his reading itself retains the depth of characterisation so important to these tales.

There are some great characters, from obstructive policeman to a range of dedicated railway officials, and some lovely settings from famous stations to the Kent countryside. The combination of excellent stories, great atmosphere and terrific reading make this selection a cut above the usual. I hope Watson has some more tucked away somewhere.
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on 16 October 2014
Benedict Cumberbatch has the most magnificient voice - and his speech is flawless. I got hypnotized while listening to the new adventures of the Baker Street crime-fighting duo on my MP4: not only does Cumberbatch manages to enthrall us with the suspense, but he also does different accents (American, country-style, etc) while remaining understantable even for a non-native English-speaking listener!
The stories are quite good - my only complain is that they are short! John Taylor did a good job in writing plots involving thieves, missing goods and trains. Also, he's respectful towards the Conan Doyle's universe and has managed to keep the Holmes/Watson friendship intact instead of conveniently turning Watson into the comic-relief fool.
A good purchase!
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2013
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Conan Doyle's novels and stories about the great detective now form only a small proportion of his fictional exploits. Often, other authors have managed to capture the flavour and feel of the originals. Sometimes they have created a satisfying mystery and solution. Very rarely they have achieved both. In these stories, the writer has managed to partially mimic the originals. There is a good sense of time and place; this is recognisably Holmes's London. But these stories do not rank with those of Conan Doyle in two respects. Firstly, the mysteries are lightweight and hackneyed. Secondly, the stories - unlike the best Holmes stories - require mostly action and speed on Holmes's part rather than mental acuity.

As others have noted, the reading is excellent. Indeed it is far better than the material warrants.
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VINE VOICEon 21 July 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a CD of four new short Sherlock Holmes stories written by John Taylor and read by the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, TV series), my main reason for trying this audio CD! The stories, as expected, are very well read, with vocal clarity and imaginative inflection. The stories themseles are interesting, but lack the depth of original Sherlock Holmes stories, which I found somewhat disappointing, but perhaps this is somewhat expected for short stories. Personally I would rather just buy a book and read it myself having tried this CD, but if you do not have time to read then you may find it more interesting to listen to these audio stories.
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on 22 December 2014
I'm holding one star back. This is a Christmas present. So I haven't heard it LL YET,
I'll visit here again with an update.
Delivery was fast and in good order though - no complaints at all.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may not have wanted to write more Sherlock Holmes stories in his lifetime until forced to by an angry mob, but there's been no shortage of pasticheurs since his death willing to do so for him, with these four stories by John Taylor the latest, but far from the last, in a long line. The presentation certainly impresses: borrowing a leaf from Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond's book, these are drawn from discarded notes in Dr John Watson's old cedar wood box that are finally dusted off for an airing. No great or shocking revelations about the Great Consulting Detective's private life here, merely some second string stories that don't live up to the master but do a decent job of capturing his style, aided immensely by Benedict Cumberbatch's superb reading. While it may immediately seem like gimmick casting, what particularly impresses is not just that Cumberbatch gives a completely different reading of Holmes to the one in his TV incarnation as Sherlock - these are, after all, period stories rather than modern-day adventures - but that in his narration as Watson you really would think you were listening to a much older actor so accomplished and natural is his performance. He's quite adept at creating the other characters with a multitude of accents as well. Indeed, it's one of those rare cases where the reader is so good he carries you over the stories' many weak points - the poor plots and obvious resolutions in particular - and emphasises their strengths - Taylor's stylish prose - making what could have been a mere opportunistic cash-in something that's actually a genuine pleasure to listen to. It won't take you long to forget the stories, but the narrator's fine performance(s) will stay with you a lot longer. Someone really should give him some genuine Conan Doyle Holmes stories to narrate before he gets sick to death of the role.
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