Title: In the Company of Sherlock Holmes
Editor: Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King
Narrators: Simon Vance, Peter Berkrot, Johnny Heller, John Lee, Bronson Pinchot, Malcolm Hillgartner, Steve West, Ralph Lister, Christopher Lane, Gildart Jackson, Matthew Brenher, Harlan Ellison, Cassandra Campbell, and Jim Meskimen
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
There is something you need to realize going into this book/audiobook. It’s something that I didn’t figure out until halfway through the first time through and I had to re-listen to the first several to make sure I listened to them in the proper frame of mind.
The people in the stories are “in the company of Sherlock Holmes.” Think about what that means for a minute. Most times, this does not mean they are in his actual presence. This is not about Sherlock Holmes the person, the character we read. This is Sherlock Holmes the idea, the presence in our culture, the great detective that always lives because he can’t die. This is most often about the effect of Holmes on people.
Do most of the people “play the game?” Yes, which I think greatly adds to the stories. But you have to realize the important distinction of what this book is trying to do, or you won’t appreciate them for what they are. And I don’t think the introduction really explains this for the reader.
Who were In The Company of Sherlock Holmes?
The Crooked Man by Michael Connelly – 4 Stars
I thought this was a good one to start out with. Not Holmes and Watson but we see a modern medical examiner who has a mind that has caused people to nickname him “Sherlock.” The case was well set up and I enjoyed seeing it pieced together by the detective and “Sherlock.” The narrator worked well with this and was a great choice. His voices were spot on for the characters.
The Curious Affair of the Italian Art Dealer by Sarah Paretsky -3 Stars
I’ll admit, this story came at a bad time. Even listening to it again only raised it half a star. I just finished a book that basically did the same thing to Holmes and I wasn’t in a forgiving mood. I’ll admit that. It was an interesting story, though, and I did think the narrator worked well with the story. I’m also very interested in Amelia Butterworth and her Victorian creator. I’ll definitely be looking into this fictional contemporary of Holmes.
The Memories of Silver Blaze by Michael Sims – 3. 5 Stars
This took some time to get into but I ended up really liking it. The story’s narrator was definitely unique, though some of the comments made were not my favorite. Servants?! But what made this for me was the narrator. He carried the story and brought the character to life.
Watson’s Casebook by Andrew Grant -2.5 Stars
The format really worked against this one. Setting up The Hound of the Baskervilles as a series of Facebook posts or something similar (again, couldn’t tell) is a great idea and I could occasionally hear where parts would have been quite funny. But having a narrator (who did his very best and did somehow make this occasionally understandable) say “Sir Henry posts ______; Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, etc. liked this” over and over again did not make sense. The few parts that did make me laugh: “The Hound” and “Sir Charles’ Ghost” liking things! Another part was “The Hound was at ‘with his teeth in Sir Henry’s neck.’” I laughed out loud at that one.
The Adventure of the Laughing Fisherman by Jeffery Deaver -3 Stars
Oh, I’m torn on this one. First, the narrator made this story work for me. The different characters came to life and when the mask starts to come off one character, you can hear it. Again, however, this is not the best time for me to like stories where Moriarty and the idea of his character are prevalent. I’ll give the author kudos though, it was an interesting idea and I’d love to see a sequel to this short story done where someone decides to take up the foil’s duties.
Art in the Blood by Laura Caldwell -2 Stars
Nope. This didn’t work for me. The narrator was…okay but I felt both he and the story were just not great. I didn’t connect with the characters, the plot didn’t seem to go anywhere, and the ending was not good. And Seriously What Is Up With More MORIARTY?!
Dunkirk by John Lescroart - 5 Stars
Oh, I liked this one! Truthfully, anything about Dunkirk is going to hold my interest but this went well beyond the last time I’ve seen Dunkirk portrayed – in Foyle’s War –where you didn’t see the action but only heard about it. Here we and an elderly “Sigerson” experience Operation Dynamo first hand. The descriptions were gripping and there were many times I could swear my clothes were wet with sea water and I could hear and feel the great guns firing. The narrator did a fabulous job and I hated to see this story end!
The Problem of the Empty Slipper by Leah Moore – Not included in this version; a graphic novel.
Lost Boys by Cornelia Funke -4 Stars
I’m not a fan of epistolary stories and having Watson reading a letter he wrote to Holmes didn’t entirely work for me but the story! It was haunting, well set up, and has stayed with me even through the other stories. The pain and horrible childhood shown and discussed in Holmes’ case were at times hard to listen to. I have to say, Dr. Watson’s voice here was very close to how I hear it in my head. A great choice.
The Thinking Machine by Denise Hamilton -3.5 Stars
Despite my thoughts going in, I liked this one. It was touching and at times hard to listen to emotionally but I loved the characters so much and felt I was sharing their pain with them. A very thought-provoking story as well and I felt the narrator worked well with the story though not perfectly.
By Any Other Name by Michael Durder -4.5 Stars
This was a hilarious idea! I would never have come up with the concept that “A. Conan Doyle” was a pseudonym used for ghost writing by many rather famous authors in the Strand. The author won me over when he included the entire poem from The Scarlet Pimpernel: “They seek him here, they seek him there…” It does actually explain a lot. And when the real Doyle shifts uncomfortably when someone jokingly mentions he’ll be posting about fairies when he takes over, I cracked up. The narrator did an excellent job with the various voices and really brought the story to life.
He Who Grew Up Reading Sherlock Holmes by Harlan Ellison (dedicated to Ray Bradbury) -1.5 Stars
I have no idea what went on. I listened to it twice, blocking out all distractions the second time and just didn’t get it. I’m not sure if it’s the format; it might work better in writing. I don’t think the narrator was to blame but frankly the entire thing simply made no sense.
The Adventure of My Ignoble Ancestress by Nancy Holder -5 Stars
The opening definitely had my attention: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that sometimes mysteries can’t be solved.” Combining the opening to my (and others’) favorite Austen novel with mysteries was almost underhandedly good. The author herself is a character (or the main character is very like her) and connects herself to someone in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. She ends up inheriting Fairbanks and arriving there finds a mystery to rival the one she’s already dealing with. The words and the narrator wove a spell; that’s the best way to explain it. I was enthralled and stopped everything to find out what happened next. This may have made the book for me!
The Closing by Leslie S. Klinger – 3 Stars
This was well written and interesting but…whether because of the issue at the center of the story or the interaction between the two main characters, this story just didn’t work very well for me. The narrator did a decent job and the story ended up being okay but kind of forgettable.
How I Came to Meet Sherlock Holmes by Gahan Wilson -3.5 Stars
I liked this one. It was short but I felt the same thrill as the character on learning the identity of the figure(show spoiler)
sharing the train car with him. How lucky indeed! The narrator was decent and it was an acceptable ending to the collection.
Basically, while I enjoyed some of the stories far better than others, most did offer a unique look at Sherlock Holmes as an idea and effect on people’s lives. In almost every case, the narrators greatly added to the stories and all seemed well chosen. If you listen to many audiobooks you will recognize several of the names and they don’t disappoint. This might not be my favorite collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, but it was well worth the listening to. I will admit, however, that the printed version for your first time read is probably a better choice though.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox; the opinions are my own.