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The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes by…
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The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes

by Bruce Wexler

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Lavishly illustrated, The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes is a companion guide to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Great Detective.

The book includes a biography of Conan Doyle, a history of Sherlock Holmes in print as well as on stage and screen, and an examination of the Holmes phenomenon today. Wexler also briefly touches on Sherlock Holmes' role in the evolution of crime fiction, the class structure of Victorian society, Victorian medicine and Holmes' use of forensic investigative techniques.

Over 150 illustrations are beautifully presented throughout the book. Many of Sidney Padget's iconic images are reproduced as full or half-page illustrations. There are many photographs of Victorian London and weapons that were common to the era. The section picturing some of Holmes' key possessions (such as his deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, pipe, Persian slipper, and violin) was especially interesting to me. When I first read through the Sherlock Holmes stories as a teenager, I had no idea what a Persian slipper looked like. I would have had no such trouble envisioning Holmes' quirky method of tobacco storage if this book had been available then.

While the illustrations shine, the text -- unfortunately -- does not. While I am by no means a Sherlock Holmes scholar, I picked up on several factual and typographical errors throughout the book. Mary Morstan, a prominent character in The Sign of Four, is referred to as "Mary Morstam", several quotations from Doyle's work are incorrect, and more than once, the word "to" is used where "too" is actually the correct form. Better editing would have served this volume well. Wexler also asserts that Doyle's non-Holmes works have "withered away from disregard." While it is certainly true that the Sherlock Holmes stories are Doyle's most popular work and will likely remain so, I would not be so hasty to dismiss the rest of his body of work.

Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend this book based on the quality and variety of the illustrations alone. If you can look past the rather unfortunate errors, there is a lot to enjoy here.

http://www.bookishruth.com/2009/05/book-review-mysterious-world-of.html ( )
  BookishRuth | May 13, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0762432527, Hardcover)

Over a century since his first appearance in print, Sherlock Holmes remains an iconic figure today. This unique companion is a collector’s dream, allowing fans to delve into the criminal environment of foggy, gas-lit Victorian London-the world of the all-time greatest detective. The book brings to life the elements of Holmes’s success, the crime scene of his day, his history in film and television, and the present-day Holmes legacy. Featured throughout are famous figures such as Holmes’s faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson; his nemesis, Professor Moriarity; and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Filled with more than 150 images-many of the works by the great original illustrators of Conan Doyle’s stories-this volume presents an excellent mix of information to satisfy legions of Holmes collectors, mystery fans, and historians fascinated by a bygone era.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:53 -0400)

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