I wasn?t quite sure what to expect from this CD, and became confused after a few minutes, when it seemed I was listening to a dramatisation rather the advertised narration. It is actually a narration, with sound effects, but the infinite variety of David Ian Davies? delivery makes for an absolutely splendid listening experience. Roger Johnson?s work itself is an entertaining, informed, and useful introduction to Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Sherlockian Canon. Like all the best guides, it is likely to be appreciated as much by those who have already visited the literary territory as newcomers. It begins with Holmes and Watson being interviewed after the death of Conan Doyle, a device which serves as an extended metaphor to reinforce how dramatically the characters have outlived their creator.
In an hour, Mr Johnson covers not only all of the essential elements of the Canon, but also plenty of interesting information about Doyle and the genesis of the stories. He also poses several pertinent questions. Doyle was famous for his love-hate relationship with Holmes, and the number of times he tried to end the Great Detective?s career. But if he really wanted to be rid of Holmes in 1893, why did he have him killed at the Reichenbach Falls, where there was no corpse to confirm the death? For that matter, Moriarty?s body wasn?t recovered either, and one can only wonder if the canny Doctor Doyle didn?t protest too much.
The commentary on the Canon is followed by mention of the living legend of Holmes, as continued in film and pastiche today, and the recording concludes with a couple of fascinating tit-bits about Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Dr Joseph Bell. In summary: an excellent guide to Holmes and Doyle from an expert in the field, performed by an equally expert narrator.