There have been many books devoted to Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation (I’m sure Brigadier Gerard will forgive me for saying so). Michael and Mollie Hardwick’s little volume is a comparatively early entry into the stakes, published to coincide with John Murray’s early 1960s publication, lauded in the back of the dust jacket, of “All the Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle”, as well as John Dickson Carr’s (qv) excellent biography.
The book is divided into five sections: the Who’s Who (an abbreviated character list), Plots of the Stories (provided in original publication order by date, with an added list of the first book publications), A Sampler of Quotations (further subdivided by topics such as “On Holmes”, “On Detective and Crime”, “On Food and Drink”), Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson (brief biography of the protagonists), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (a short biographical sketch). The book is lavishly garnished with the work of Sidney Paget and period illustrations, some of which are better known than others, but all of which are as evocative and fascination as they were over one hundred years ago.
I devoured this book when I was a teenager first reading the Holmes stories, and I’m delighted to say that it holds up well. There may have been a more exhaustively complete volume published since 1962, but for sheer volume and concision, this one is hard to surpass, and well-worth picking up if you are even a casual Holmesian who stumbles upon a copy. Five stars, warmly recommended.
Originally reviewed 30 June 2015.
Find your copy of The Sherlock Holmes Companion, available from booksellers around the world, at AbeBooks.com (title links to search results).