Sunday 1 January 2012

The Scotsman Abroad | Holmes for the Holidays

As much to my surprise as anyone else's, I enjoyed the new Sherlock Holmes novel by Alex Rider writer Anthony Horowitz... well, immensely. You can read my review of The House of Silk in full here, but suffice it to say Horowitz's novel so endeared the great detective to me that I immediately laid waste to my little library, the better to see what other contemporary pastiches I could read to tide me over till the imminent second season of the exemplary BBC series.

Fast-forward to the present - though 2012 still sounds like the far-flung future to me - and I may have read more Sherlock Holmes stories in the last month than ever before -- not just to satisfy my own appetites, either, because a while ago I heard how the overlords in charge of were intending to keep the site ticking on over through Christmas and New Year.

The result - Holmes for the Holidays - has been running since a bit before the big day, and it's been brilliant. Lots of fun, and indubitably interesting. If you aren't following along already, I'd wholeheartedly recommend you pop on over to the index and catch up if you can.

For my part, I contributed two short articles, both of which have now had their official unveiling. In the first, I looked at an old one-shot Caliber Comics put out in the mid-90s: namely The Sussex Vampire, a short graphic adaptation of the original Conan Doyle story masterminded by none other than Warren effing Ellis.

'The Sussex Vampire' is an excellent adaptation of a sterling Sherlock Holmes story, fittingly illustrated and ably scripted by an author since risen to renown, whose early work – up to and including this superb single issue – deserves a great deal more attention than it gets. Warren Ellis and Craig Gilmour make for fine co-conspirators, and while 'The Sussex Vampire' isn’t as easy to find these days as it was for me, way back when – at least, not by legal means – if you can: do.

And I couldn't very well let a celebration of all things Sherlock Holmes pass by without a tip of the trilby - ahem - to Neil Gaiman, whose stunning 'A Study In Emerald' entangled the mythos of everyone's favourite consulting detective together with that - of all things - of H. P. Lovecraft.

Then, in the process of researching 'A Study In Emerald,' I realised Gaiman had recently written a second Sherlock Holmes story, so I got myself a copy of the new anthology out of Titan Books - that is to say A Study in Sherlock - and endeavoured to write about these two weird tales together.

'The Case of Death and Honey' occurs in the mysterious twilight years of the great detective's career, but is also alludes to what might have happened to our man after his retirement. Given that 'A Study In Emerald' so evoked 'A Study in Scarlet' - which is to say the very first Sherlock Holmes story - this, I think, is particularly fitting. A sort of closing of the circle; though it isn't giving the game away to stress, a second time, that appearances can be... deceiving.

Never mind the various other stories it contains, A Study in Sherlock is worth the price of admission for 'The Case of Death and Honey' alone. It's the sort of short story that reminds you what short stories are for. 

Anyway, I will of course be glued to the telly tonight, when the first feature-length episode of the second season of the BBC's Sherlock series premieres. If there's a better way to ring in 2012, no-one's mentioned it to me!

I'm almost afraid to ask, but you guys are as psyched as I am, right?

As to A Game of Shadows, in case you were wondering: no, I haven't seen it yet... but I am hoping to make it to the movies in the imminent. For this, do you think? Or should I wait to rent it on Blu-ray, and see something better?

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