Many of the staff at Halifax Public Libraries are big fans of the BBC show Sherlock. It's a clever, funny, and contemporary take on the famous sleuth of 221b Baker St., full of nods and allusions to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work but with plot lines that vary wildly from the books. The result is surprisingly true to the spirit of the originals.
There is one thing we don't love about BBC's Sherlock: it only arrives in groups of three episodes about once every two years, making for a very long wait between seasons. The next series has just begun filming this month, to air sometime around Christmas -still an agonizingly long way away. Here are some some reading suggestions to fill the Sherlock void in the meantime.
An obvious choice for those craving more Sherlock would be to check out the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; I read many of these when I was 11-12 years old and it has been fun to go back and compare details with the new series. While they don't have to be read in order, a good starting story for BBC Sherlock fans would be the first Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet" in which Dr. Watson recounts meeting the detective Sherlock Holmes for the first time. The beginnings of their friendship are the scenes the show follows most closely. These books are now in the public domain, which makes them great material to keep handy on your e-reader or tablet. You can find them as free ebooks through sites such as Project Gutenberg.
If you find Conan Doyle's prose a bit outdated consider trying Ian Edginton's series of Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novels. These are well illustrated and follow the canonical Holmes in complete detail. Apart from the traditional Sherlock Holmes stories there is a wealth of fiction by authors who have been inspired to write new adventures for the characters created by Conan Doyle. For a sampling of works by others about Holmes and Watson try A Study in Sherlock: Stories inspired by the Holmes Canon. This anthology includes short stories by some notable mystery writers including Lee Child, Laura Lippman, and Phillip Margolin.
One of the editors of A Study in Sherlock, Laurie R. King, is the author of her own successful series of novels set in the world of Sherlock Holmes, the Mary Russell Sherlockian Mysteries. The first novel, the Beekeepers Apprentice, introduces a new character who shares Sherlock Holmes's talent for observation and reason, Mary Russell. She becomes Holmes's apprentice, friend, and partner through a series of mysteries set in various locations through the early part of the twentieth century.
Sherlock-inspired novels to be published this year include King's latest installment Dreaming Spies, The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons in which Holmes and turn-of-the-century author Henry James solve a mystery in the U.S.A., and Moriarty, a mystery set in the aftermath of the death of Holmes and his arch enemy Professor Moriarty, by Anthony Horwitz. It seems that Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Moriarty has inspired an entire genre of his own; see some of our selections here.
Somehow I don't imagine Sherlock Holmes as one to enjoy a great deal of fiction; if your reading tastes run toward fact-based books try one of these:
Mastermind: how to think like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova, or The Science of Sherlock Holmes : from Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear, the real forensics behind the great detective's greatest cases by E.J. Wagner.