I do want to admit – in an ugly sort of way – that I greatly enjoyed being able to finish this in the span of about an hour, much faster than if I were reading the original. Likewise, much of the needless description of unimportant details are left out as I.N.J. Culbard illustrates the scenes well and perhaps improves upon some of Conan Doyle's approaches to setting the scene. Unfortunately, neither illustrator Culbard or "text adapter" Ian Edginton can do little to mask some of Conan Doyle's shortcomings when it comes to imagining characters.
If you are like me – and not in all the bad ways – then you likely grew up with a level of admiration for Sherlock Holmes. I mean, come on, he's the world's smartest man. And he can handle himself in a fight. And he solves crimes. And stops international incidents from causing wars. He is about as English a superhero as one could imagine, and he doesn't need to come from a distant planet or be bitten by a spider to get his powers. But in reading through the stories, there is so much withheld from the reader that it makes it impossible to appreciate what Holmes is actually doing. And the rest of the cast is usually so confused as to how to go about detective work that the only role they serve is for Holmes to explain what he has done – things hidden from the reader until the end.
I kind of hate that kind of storytelling. I think of it as the Henry Lopez school of building a mystery – never mind that Mr. Lopez is working in a different medium and more than a century after Conan Doyle – where surprises can be sprung simply because no information regarding them was ever offered in the first place. Modern detective stories usually give more of an insight as to the work. Even comedic approaches like USA's Psych (2006-whenever USA cancels it) show the actual observations, but retain the Holmesian wrap-up speach as to how the mystery was solved. Shawn Spencer (James Roday), a modern super-observant detective, pretends to be psychic and hides behind humor rather than endlessly berating the police force for not picking up on every single clue.
|Shawn Spencer and Guster Burton, Psych's answer to Holmes and Watson. Less pretentiousness, more snarkiness. And occasionally the detectives know more than they do.|
As for the story, it actually is pretty imaginative. Two men are killed and Scotland Yard does not know how to find the killer – and Conan Doyle actually treats the inspectors with a small amount of respect in regards to their thinking and methods. Holmes stumbles around, insults people, goes missing for periods of time, and then announces he has determined who the murderer is, but needs to get him as to find out why. That leads to a rather dull and lengthy tale of the motivation behind the killings. However, we do learn that Watson can diagnose an aneurism simply by checking someone's pulse, so that is quite impressive.
|Page 17, where Watson assesses Holmes|
I think the asking price of $14.95 is kind of high. I checked a copy of from the local library – at a cost of $0, which is always pretty solid. Still, it isn't a price gouge. And if one were really into all things Sherlock Holmes, this would make a fine addition to the collection. It is also is probably a better means of introducing the characters to the younger set – especially if they can see this before the Guy Ritchie films –than the alternatives.