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This book is split into two parts, the first being the investigation by Sherlock Holmes into the murderous events at a Sussex manor and the second part is the history - a story in its own right - of how the events being investigated at the manor came about. Holmes solves the case with three-and-a-half hours of the audiobook remaining and we are then taken back to a town in America set in 'The Valley of Fear' and shown why it is so named. I enjoyed this book but did start to loose a little interest a couple of hours into the historical story, as all the characters are different from the first half of the book and I was getting frustrated as to how it was all going to link up to the investigation. All in all, this is a great book, with the only criticism being that the story of the Valley of Fear went on a little too long. Derek Jacobi is exemplary as usual.
You know Sherlock Holmes. You've seen adaptations on TV, you know his stories. But, listening/reading the books is just wonderful. By reading, you gain a deeper understanding of Holmes, of Watson, of Victorian England and Derek Jacobi is an amazing narrator. He is perfect for the job. So even though you may be familiar with the stories, have a listen and instead of being preoccupied with 'who done it' (cos you probably know already), enjoy the journey and allow Holmes to lead you there in his own unique way.
Sherlock is hardly in this book, really disappointing after listening to the previous three, which were all very good. A huge shame.
"Not as good as 'Baskervilles'"
This is a worthy outing for Holmes and Watson. The mystery is interesting and the extended flashback scene is better handled here than in the earlier novels. It does though still feel a bit disjointed, and almost as though Conan Doyle wished he were writing a different book.
The fourth and last of the Holmes novels, 'The Valley of Fear' is a return to the conventional structure of 'A Study in Scarlet'. In this regard it is a definite improvement - the mystery is compelling, and the narrative is very well written even by the standards of the wider canon. Yet to an extent it also feels like a recapitulation of older material: elements not just of 'A Study in Scarlet' but also 'The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual' and 'The Adventure of the Norwood Builder' are detectable, as well as a tantalising nod to 'The Final Problem', sadly under-developed.
Holmes and Watson are by far Jacobi's most subtle characterisations in these recordings. He is one of the few actors who does not make Watson sound like an easily-amused idiot.
The structure of this book would not suit television. The flashback might work as a stand-alone.
This was a good read, but still stands in the shadow of triumph that is 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.
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