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Not for fans of the original stories
on 29 March 2005
Of the twelve stories, six were written by Adrian Conan Doyle alone and six were written with the American novelist John Dickson Carr.
The stories themselves go a little way to re-creating the feel of Sir Arthur's original 60 stories. They use references to unexplored cases within the original books as a departure point for creating new stories - the so called "unsolved cases" from the original stories.
The six co-written with Carr are definitely the superior, but the further one reads in to the 12 the less comfortable one feels with the use of the Sherlock Holmes brand.
Ultimately, there are 3 complaints that caused me to reject the book outright:
- Of little importance, but annoying nonetheless, it appears from one of the stories that Adrian is unware that "infer" and "imply" have different meanings and should not be confused. The original stories use the word "infer" quite liberally. However, Sir Arthur never confused the use of the word "infer" with the word "imply" - Holmes always inferred from clues that implied. I would guess that Adrian was attempting to keep the feel of the originals by throwing in "infer" whenever he could.
- Of more importance, it should be noted that the phrase "elementary, my dear Watson" is maligned amongst Sherlock Holmes fans for the simple reason that it does not ever appear in the original stories. It was invented as a catchphrase by playwrights writing their own Holmes material during Sir Arthur's life and never adopted for use by the man himself. Adrian's faux pas in having this hackneyed cliche appear is unforgiveable.
- Of absolute importance, by the time the 12th story appears Adrian appears to have run out of ideas. Instead, he sews together elements that have appeared in original Holmes stories and presents it as new story. The main thread of the plot and the method of solving the case is lifted straight from "The Valley of Fear" with no signficant changes. The "mind reading" trick is also a recycled element from the original stories. One wonders if a writer not in the family would have been sued for copyright infringements had they attempted the same in 1954.
After reading all of the original stories, I came to this volume hoping that the family connection would mean I would read something true to the original and with merits of its own. Ultimately, this is merely yet another knock-off that is a shadow of the original stories, together with some terrible annoyances that make me regret ever reading it.
Do yourself a favour and re-read the originals instead of wasting your time on this.