|Home||Manuscripts||Top-10 Lists||e-World||Site Index|
The Best of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is more popular than ever, which means there are lots of new books, movies, and Sherlockiana. The reviews and recommendations below can help you focus on the best ones from 2013. If you're just getting started with Holmes, see the Top 10 Choices for New Fans. This site also reviews newer Sherlockian items to consider.
|Category||# of Items|
|2013 Holmes Fiction||3|
|2013 Holmes DVDs, Movies, and Related||5|
|2013 Books About Holmes & Conan Doyle||5|
Sebastian McCabe and Jeff Cody meet in present-day England as part of a Sherlockian debate and pastiche contest, but are soon involved in a puzzling disappearance and murder. Filled with Sherlockian references, the book incorporates a short Holmes pastiche (The Adventure of The Magic Umbrella) and a backstory (The Adventure of the Vatican Cameos) that were first published separately. Andriacco has a light and engaging style that makes this a fun read even if the mystery plot is bit thin. It's the fourth and best in the McCabe/Cody series, which starts with No Police Like Holmes. This book can be read alone, though there are numerous references to their earlier tales ($16.95 SRP; Amazon US listing $15.26)
Holmes investigates a series of bombings that could lead to anarchy in England. While starting as a mostly-traditional Holmes mystery, the second half of the book becomes a science-fiction steampunk adventure. Watson narrates this tale in a reasonably authentic style, and though an occasional modernism creeps in, the writing is professional and enjoyable. Lovegrove has a good knowledge of the original tales and even includes a few fun Doylean references. He blends in some nice deductions with plenty of action to make this a real page-turner. His work is strong enough that he doesn't really need so much steampunk fantasy, but it dominates the conclusion and so the book will appeal most of all to fans of that genre. ($14.95 SRP; Amazon US listing $11.59)
Most of the 14 brand-new pastiches in this anthology are narrated by Watson and set in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Some are traditional mysteries, but others have elements of the supernatural, fantasy or science fiction. Just like the original Adventures, which mixed murders with crimeless tales and humorous incidents, the variety of story types in this book increases its appeal. Several of the stories are excellent and the overall quality is pretty high. I particularly enjoyed "The Fallen Financier" by James Lovegrove, "The Adventure of the Locked Carriage" by Stuart Douglas, "The Demon Slasher of Seven Sisters" by Cavan Scott, and "Holmes and the Indelicate Widow" by Mags L Halliday. ($14.95 SRP; Amazon US listing $10.96)
The year's best DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, videos, movie-related and audio items released in 2013. See also About the Choices.
Prices as of November 2013; subject to change.
The first season of Elementary turned out to be a wonderful surprise. Viewers will find it to be a first-rate police procedural akin to The Mentalist with a bit of House M.D. mixed in. Sherlockians will recognize frequent allusions to characters and quotes from the Canon, and enjoy some startling twists to the original material. Where the BBC Sherlock updated the Holmes tales, Elementary took the characters as inspiration for an entirely different approach to Holmes and Watson that still honors the originals. The cast is excellent, and while the 24 episodes varied, they seemed to get even better through the year. The 6-DVD set has subtitles and includes more than an hour of extras, with about half the extras being quite interesting. ($55.98 SRP; Amazon US listing $37.96 DVD)
Before Anthony Horowitz wrote his fine Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk, he created and wrote the excellent BBC series Foyle's War. Opening in 1940 England and featuring mysteries and murders set on the homefront during wartime, it frequently incorporated many true but little-known aspects of that era. Michael Kitchen is wonderful as Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle. Series 7 picks up after WWII at the beginning of the Cold War, and focuses more on espionage than on traditional murders. It offers another strong set of three 90-minute episodes and can be enjoyed on its own, but I suggest you start with Season One and watch them in sequence. PBS cut about 8 minutes from the twisty plots and clever writing of each episode, so the full-length versions on disc for all seasons are much preferred. ($49.99 SRP; Amazon US listing $33.93 DVD, $38.52 Blu-ray)
Holmes and Star Trek have a long and intertwined history. Mr. Spock owes much of his character to Holmes. Commander Data actually portrays Holmes and faces Moriarty in two Trek TV episodes. Nicholas Meyer (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution) wrote the best of the original Trek movies. Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC Sherlock) stars in this latest Trek film and does a fine job in a surprising role that also has deep ties to Meyer's work. It's better than the 2009 Trek movie, with the same great cast and special effects but a tighter and stronger plot. Picture and sound quality on the Blu-ray is excellent. It also has 42 minutes of featurettes, including some nice segments on Cumberbatch. ($29.99 SRP; Amazon US listing $14.99 DVD, $19.99 Blu-ray)
Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud join forces in a strong adaptation by Nicholas Meyer of his own bestselling pastiche. The all-star cast is excellent with the exception of Robert Duvall as Watson, and even his performance is fine except for an unsuccessful British accent. A quirky film with moments of excellence, it doesn't quite live up to its potential but is certainly worth watching. This new Blu-ray is far better than the 2011 DVD, with a richer and sharper picture in 1080p and slightly better (though still mono) sound. Unlike that old DVD, this Blu-ray has English subtitles, a chapter index, and an excellent 19-minute interview with Nicholas Meyer about his book and this movie. The original 114 minutes and 1.85:1 widescreen. ($26.99 SRP; Amazon US listing $26.68 Blu-ray Combo)
This book, subtitled "The Official Companion to the Hit Television Series," provides a fun and informative look at the BBC Sherlock Season One and Season Two that's ideal for fans of the show. Each episode is reviewed through John Watson's scrapbook collection, where his notes on the case are accompanied by numerous color photos and sticky-notes of funny dialogue between John and Sherlock. Essays on making the series include brief interviews with the creators and cast members. Perhaps the best parts are "By the Book" essays that highlight points and props in an episode that relate back to the original tales. Absolutely filled with color photos, you'll enjoy both skimming through it and reading all the details. ($19.99 SRP; Amazon US listing $11.37)
If you want to write a Sherlockian paper, or just enjoy reading some of the best Sherlockian commentary and scholarship ever published, you need the e-Baker Street Journal archive. The eBSJ version 2 contains all 276 issues published from inception in 1946 through 2011, including all the BSJ Christmas Annuals. Produced in PDF on a single DVD, this version improves on the BSJ CD (2000) by adding 11 years of material, improving the text searchability and usability of older issues, and reducing file sizes for faster and easier use on PCs and tablets. At under a penny a page, the eBSJ is an incredible value. See my detailed review of the eBSJ v2 for more information, including tips for using the eBSJ. ($149.95 SRP; not on Amazon; see BSJ website)
This book uses the Holmes stories to illustrate how the mind can and does work. Part popular psychology and part self-help manual, Mastermind suggests how you can think more clearly, deeply, and rationally. It has many examples from the Holmes tales and Conan Doyle's real life. The strongest sections include the last half of Chapter 7 and the Postlude. Peculiarly, for a book that asks you to think critically, it has no significant source notes and a very limited bibliography, so you must take the author's assertions and case studies on faith. I would have liked more details on many of those studies, but overall it provides an interesting twist on Sherlock Holmes and some good suggestions for readers. ($26.95 SRP; Amazon US listing $19.76)
This chronology is an essential reference tool for anyone writing about Sir Arthur, his family, or his works including the Holmes stories. It includes a detailed chronological listing of events along with the sources for dating each event. This provides a master index to more than 330 books, pamphlets, articles, and primary sources about Conan Doyle. Among the 118 new sources added to this revised edition are several biographical books by Alistair Duncan, Conan Doyle's arctic diary and his accounts of his later American travels, and many newspaper articles. When you need to fact-check something about Sir Arthur, this is the place to start. ($22.95 SRP; Amazon US listing $20.66)
Updated 11/1/14: see the Conan Doyle Chronology 2014 edition for a newer and better version of this book.
This is the fifth Holmes short-story manuscript to be reproduced by the Baker Street Irregulars. You can read Conan Doyle's original draft in his remarkably clear handwriting or from the line-by-line transcription facing each manuscript page. Phillip Bergem provides his usual fine annotations and there are 10 essays about the story and the manuscript's history, including one by me. It's a nicely produced hardcover, though the black cloth can show finger marks and it lacks an index. The Manuscript Series books make great gifts for a Holmes fan who has never seen an original manuscript, and for people who really want to understand the background and nuances of the story. ($35.00 SRP; not on Amazon; see BSJ website)
While much has been written about The Strand Magazine, it's spread throughout numerous books and biographies. Many of those, including The Uncollected Sherlock Holmes by Richard Lancelyn Green, are out of print. Veld does a fine job of pulling information together to provide the best single source on the history of Sherlock Holmes in the Strand. Particularly notable are Veld's extended quotations from Conan Doyle letters, details about the magazine after 1930, and eight pages of excellent photos (most in color). This 100-page paperback has a clever cover design but lacks an index. ($24.95 SRP; not on Amazon; see Wessex Press)
Cumberbatch fans should check out this BBC Sherlock series companion book. And while this section of my list focuses on items for long-term Sherlockians, people looking for a compact and affordable gift for new Sherlockians should consider Nicholas Utechin's well-written Amazing & Extraordinary Facts - Sherlock Holmes.
The 2013 list was first posted on November 1, 2013.
This site first published its "Best of Year" reviews and recommendations in 2009. See the current Year's Best Sherlock Holmes books and movies and the Other Years' Best Sherlock Holmes books and DVDs. People just getting started with Holmes should see the best choices for new Sherlockians.
A Kindle version of most of these books is available, but I don't list the e-book or its price unless it's hard to find on Amazon. Typically the Kindle Edition will be listed in the Formats box to the right of a book's cover photo.
When a book is available in both print and e-text, I review the print edition.
My choices are based on 30+ years of reading and collecting Sherlockiana. I'm a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, have written numerous Sherlockian articles, and have spoken about Conan Doyle rarities for conferences at Harvard and the University of Minnesota.
I limited the number of items in order to make this list easier and faster for people to use. Items released near the end of 2013 may not be on this list, so be sure to check my 2014 recommendations as well. And see these details on my selection process and criteria.
In most cases I've given both the U.S. suggested retail price (SRP) and the price at Amazon as of November 2013; those prices are of course subject to change.
Best Sherlock Holmes books and DVDs / Blu-ray from prior years