Top positive review
29 people found this helpful
Expertly read by Benedict Cumberbatch
on 6 January 2011
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.