The Sherlock Holmes Book
Date Published01 October 2015
Price£ 16.99

The Sherlock Holmes Book

by DK (edited by David Stuart Davies and Barry Forshaw)

Everything you ever wanted to know about the world’s most famous fictional detective.


Just when you think there’s nothing new anyone can say about the world’s most famous fictional detective and his creator, another book comes along that instantly makes me want to dive between the covers and start rummaging around.

The Sherlock Homes Book has two very able consultant editors in David Stuart Davies, a crime writer who has seven Holmes novels to his name, and Barry Forshaw, author of – amongst other things – The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction. They’ve brought together six other contributors from a wide variety of backgrounds, all equally obsessed with Holmes.

The book is divided into six main sections, starting with Arthur Conan Doyle himself and then moving on to cover a different aspect of his most famous creation’s life and work. The book benefits from an attractive layout, with easy to read columns interspersed with numerous short quotations, illustrations and diagrams that contrive to enhance the text rather than interrupt it, which can be a difficult trick to pull off. I’m extremely hard to please on the subject of layout, but this book ticks all the right boxes and is an object lesson in how to mix text with visual aids to produce something that’s both readable and looks good.

Each of Conan Doyle’s works is examined, from the four novels to the canonical collection of 56 short stories. Also mentioned is a possible addition to this canon discovered in an attic in Selkirk, Scotland in 2015, which may have been written by him in 1904, although this has not yet been confirmed.
Timelines are a feature of the book, providing comparative chronologies of Conan Doyle’s life and work, which provide an easy means of slotting the stories together with other events in his life. Each of the stories has an ‘In Context’ section, which provides a very handy, quick guide to the type of story, when it was first published and the characters that appear. The main part of each chapter then provides an overview of the story along with a critical analysis. Holmes’ trademark deductions are set out in context, showing his observations and how they lead him to each conclusion. You can use these to form your own opinion on how valid they were!

This is a book you can either read from cover to cover or simply dip into as the fancy takes you. I started at the beginning, but then got distracted by lots of new and shiny snippets and ended up wandering at will through the pages, finding something interesting everywhere I looked. Benedict Cumberbatch I can take or leave, but give me this book any day of the week and I’d be happy.

Reviewed 12 December 2015 by Linda Wilson