The very first article in
Baker Street Essays
was a glowing re- view of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, by VincentStarrett.It is one of (and in my opinion,the best of ) the books in OttoPenzler’s Sherlock Holmes Li-brary, a reissue of nine previ-ously hard to find classics froman earlier age of Sherlockiana, This series included a second volume by Starrett,
221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes,
a collection was originally published in 1940.Unlike
, which con-sisted entirely of original com-positions, Starrett served as edi-tor of this collection of Sher-lockiana, contributing only onepiece; a pastiche entitled
The Adventure of the Unique Hamlet.
contains twelve essays,three pastiches and a crosswordpuzzle. It starts off with
The Field Bazaar
, a scene written by Doyle for the Edinburgh Uni- versity newspaper. It consists of an episode in which Holmesseemingly reads Watson’s mind,then explains how he did it. Inthose pre-internet days, it’shighly unlikely this small pieceof Holmes fiction was widely available.
Was Sherlock Holmes an American?
,BSI founder Christopher Mor-ley’s heretical supposition thatthe world’s first consulting de-tective was really born on the western side of the Atlanticocean, follows.R.K. Leavitt’s
Nummi in Arca
looks at Holmes’ fiscal situationover the years and is an interest-ing topic. Elmer Davis and JaneNightwork each contribute arti-cles about the role of matrimony in Dr. Watson’s life.P.M. Stone relates a reporter’s visit to an aging Holmes in
Sus- sex Interview
. I enjoyed this littlepiece quite a bit.Starrett’s
The Adventure of the Unique Hamlet
is frequently listednear the top of pastiche rank-ings, which I have never under-stood . Near the end of the story (which I don’t wish to giveaway) Holmes explains to the villain how the trail he took be-tween the two houses gave himaway. Unless I’m missing some-thing, this leaves a hole that youcould drive a truck through andquashes the redeeming qualitiesof the tale. I can’t imagine how this is considered one of thebest non-Doyle Holmes adven-tures.
Sherlock Holmes in Pictures
is a very nice reminiscence by thegreat Frederic Dorr Steele him-self and worthy of inclusion inmore collections. Dorr Steelecomes across as very personable.Edgar Smith’s
Appointment in Baker Street
is an early dramatispersonae from the Canon. Re-member; this was long beforeHolmes encyclopedias by Or-lando Park, Jack Tracy and Mat-thew Bunsen. At 101 pages, it isalso far and away the longestpiece of the book. A few more pieces round outthe collection. On the whole,there are some good reads in
221B: Studies in Sherlock
, but it isa mixed bag and not on thesame level as Starrett’s
Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.
Of course,that’s akin to saying HarrisonFord is no Humphrey Bogart in
. Who could be?
Gasogene Books has brought usa 75th anniversary edition of
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
.Gasogene, of course, is the pub-lisher of Leslie Klinger’s Sher-lock Holmes Reference Library volumes. Naturally, this kind of high quality stuff is what you cannaturally expect from good Mid- western folks. This edition brings a new intro-duction and commentary on thebook. A special treat is a videoon the website that lets you hear Vincent Starrett himself recitehis poem, 221B (with some nice video behind it). If you are any kind of Sherlockian (and you wouldn’t be reading this e-newsletter if you weren’t), click onthis link and listen to a legendin the field.
221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes(Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes Library)