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The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, Volume II

Narrated by: David Timson
Length: 5 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (33 ratings)

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Editorial Reviews

Sherlockians regard The Casebook with mixed feelings, being the last and probably the least of Conan Doyle's Holmes efforts. David Timson, however, excels in these respectful narrations and more than compensates for the lesser material. He goes beyond voicing words clearly; he savors the language and gives attention to every phrase. The subtle use of music to mark setting changes is also effective. The collection concludes with a bonus story written and read by Timson ("The Wondrous Toy") on Holmes's encounter with the new gramophone and, by implication, the birth of the audiobook era.

Publisher's Summary

In the last six stories written by Conan Doyle featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, the duo face some of their most challenging cases. In "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client", Holmes puts his own life in danger as he tries to cut short a young girl’s infatuation with the notorious wife-murderer Baron Gruner. Why is Mrs. Maberley offered a handsome price for the Three Gables, provided she leaves at once and takes nothing with her? Even in his retirement, Holmes’s skills are called upon, as he follows a trail of death on the Sussex coast in "The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane".

©1925-1927 US Only; 2008 (Naxos). Estate of Dame Jean Conan Doyle/Naxos AudioBooks Ltd (P)2008 Naxos AudioBooks

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Flawed on multiple levels

I'm posting the same review for the two parts of this book, because (criticism #1) it's a money-grubbing move to split up what is basically a short to average-length collection of short stories to make consumers pay for it twice. I have a number of criticisms of this audiobook, the most major of which is not the fault of the performer or the publisher:

1) See above

2) The production of this audiobook has some odd and unnecessary flourishes. Stories open and close, and sections are divided, by a chamber orchestra that serves no narrative purpose. Also, when a character is reading a letter written by someone else, the narrating character's voice fades out and the letter-writer's character's voice (all read by the same actor, mind you) and another character's voice are superimposed on top of it in a weird fade in/fade out effect that is just distracting.

3) David Timson, the actor/reader, is skilled at assuming a variety of voices, male and female. Unfortunately, for Sherlock Holmes, he chooses to assume a truly annoying, nasal voice that makes you instantly dislike the character. I'm spoiled by Stephen Fry's superior characterization, but even if I'd never heard Fry read as Holmes, I think I would have disliked this characterization. I'd otherwise rate his performance a 4 or 5.

4) Speaking of Stephen Fry, the only reason I bought this split up audiobook is that this last collection was omitted from his amazing but inaccurately titled complete Sherlock Holmes audiobook collection. I had assumed the omission was due to copyright restrictions, since until very recently this last collection in the canon was not in public domain, but now that I've actually slogged through it, I think I may understand other reasons why Fry may have declined to include it in his masterwork. These stories were written in the last decade or so of Doyle's life, and unfortunately many of them show him to be at the very nadir of his creative abilities. "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" is basically a tired reboot of "The Red Headed League", "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" is gripping up until you find out what is going on and then it turns into something truly stupid out of the lame pulp fiction of the day, and "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" is so staggeringly bad it actually reads like a Mad Magazine parody of a Sherlock Holmes story. It's hard to pick a "worst of" in this collection, but the last one mentioned is in close competition with "The Adventure of the Three Gables", which features a black character who is depicted in such horrifyingly racist and degrading stereotypes that I almost didn't make it any farther through the audiobook. My favorite story was maybe the most unusual in that if doesn't feature Dr. Watson and is set during Holmes' retirement, "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane."

Overall, I just can't recommend this split up audiobook. If you are a hard core lover of Doyle's Holmes cannon, get a public domain copy of the book and skip past the bad stories. David Timson contributes his own "bonus" story that he wrote himself, but as I don't have much interest in the many pastiches written after Doyle, I didn't listen to it. Sorry, David.

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  • Mark
  • 04-06-12

Off key

I have all of the Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes storys on my ipod now and I must say that this series of storys is my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, compaired to a lot of books this is still very good but I don't think that Doyle is quiet on the money in this case.

As for the reader, he is good without being anything special. Of note though is the final story on this audiobook. It is not a Conan Doyle story but one written by the narrator, David Timson. It serves as proof that Holmes simpley becomes another boring detective if anyone but Doyle writes him. The story is flat and lifeless and contradicts several things that Doyle has said about Holmes in his own storys. It is badly written and badly researched. It is so bad infact I have nocked a star of my rating.

Over all a good book, apart from the last story, and the reader is good, but not quite up to the usual standards of Holmes and Watson.