Simon Vance is the perfect narrator for Holmes; I was hoping he'd do them someday, and now suddenly out of nowhere he's done all of them. Absolutely no complaints about the narration. I recently listenend to all the stories read by Derek Jacobi, and now I'm in the process of listening to them again. As always, Vance's perfectly modulated voice brings out nuances I've missed, despite having read (and listened to) the stories many, many times.
Despite the crime-solving framework, these really aren't plot-driven stories. What I enjoy more than anything - and the thing I remember most vividly - is the wonderful variety of characters that inhabit this world. Holmes is at the top of the list, but Watson has his own charm and mystery (not the least of which is the way his war wound moves around). And the clients! Jabez Wilson. All the women named Violet. The wonderful thumbnail sketch of the budding young psychopath in "The Copper Beeches." The dying John Turner. Mycroft. Stapleton. Barrymore and his wife. And to top them all off, the dog in the night-time.
The stories are not all first-rate. I could do without most of the stories in "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes," and there are a couple of duds in the earlier collections. But even some of the duds - like "A Case of Identity" - have a fascinating character study at their core. And the duds are outnumbered by one tightly-packed gem after another.
My only complaint is the same one others have mentioned: the way the books have been divided up across the files. It would have been convenient if the series were grouped into files by book rather than by an arbitrary file length.
But that's really a minor quibble, and in any case it may change if the publisher listens to feedback. It doesn't affect my rating. If you're on the fence about which Holmes collection to get, get this one.
David Timson is a tough act to follow as a narrator of Sherlock Holmes stories, but Simon Prebble gives him a run for his money here. It's wonderful that Tantor released all four Holmes novels at the same time. Prebble is another in my growing list of favorite narrators. The voices of the different characters are less distinctive at times than in Timson's reading, but Prebble is equally effective at conveying the excitement of the story, the sense of dread, and the sharp humor of Holmes himself.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles" is the quintessential Holmes story, even though he himself is absent from a significant portion of the action. If you never read another Holmes story, read this one. Among other things, it's the perfect antidote for people who grew up thinking of Watson as the likeable duffer from the old Basil Rathbone movies. He shows himself here as a courageous and loyal friend, and while his detecting is less brilliant than Holmes's, it's equally tenacious.
I'm looking forward to the other entries in the series.
Simon Prebble does an excellent job narrating this first collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. No complaints there. But the collection is marred by Tantor's decision to omit the two stories (Speckled Band and Red-Headed League) they'd already made available as "bonuses" on two of the novels.
In other words, if you want all of the short stories, you have to buy the whole set of recordings, including the four novels. (I'm planning to do that, but others may have preferred not to.) There's something to said, too, for being able to listen to the stories in their published sequence. This unfortunate marketing ploy makes that less convenient.