Regional interest

Hmm. I seem to be most popular in the U.S. and Russia at the moment.

Book title

No sorry I'm not giving it away just yet but I have settled on a title for my next book. Regrettably I'll be breaking my habit of three-word titles but I still think it is a good title.

Can you stand the suspense?


Things to look for in my new book

As many of my regular readers will know, I am at work on a new mini-Conan Doyle biography. On this occasion I am devoting myself to Conan Doyle's life during the period he lived at Undershaw. As well as looking at life at the house and in the area I shall also look at ACD's life on the wider stage during the period
(1897 - 1907).

As with my last book The Norwood Author I shall tend to focus on the Sherlockian aspects as that is where my main interest lies. That is not to say that I will ignore all else but it is where I shall lay emphasis.

Look out for some theories on The Hound of the Baskervilles.

At the moment the most likely release date is Autumn 2011.


Some rather interesting information arrived in my inbox yesterday afternoon. It adds some weight to a theory I was already forming. I just need to find the right words to express it.

Haslemere Festival 2011

I know it's advance warning but the Haslemere festival will take place in May 2011. Amongst the many things that will be discussed is Arthur Conan Doyle. If you can be in the area do try and attend. I shall post more details and links as I get them.

Tick tock

One of the most frustrating things about writing non-fiction is the research. By that I don't mean the act of carrying out said research but the delay waiting for other people to do things.

Right now I am waiting on to provide me with a marriage certificate and the Surrey History Centre to do some paid research for me.

Now, to be fair to them both, I haven't been waiting all that long but when you're trying to motor on any delay is frustrating.

Current word count : Approx 22,000.

First Pics of Sherlock 2

The following link shows the first pictures from the shooting of Sherlock Holmes 2.

A new society

I would like to draw the attention of Sherlockians (especially Scottish ones) to the existence of The Sherlock Holmes Society of Scotland.

They are a new society and are in search of an appropriate name with a Scottish slant. It needs to be a Sherlockian one though.


I have learned the the Crime Thriller Award for "The People's Detective" went to Foyle of "Foyle's War". Whilst the decision of the public to overlook Sherlock Holmes stuns me I salute the makers of Foyle's War for their win. At least a period detective won.

Crime Thriller Awards

I was very pleased to see that "Sherlock" won the first Dagger at the Crime Thriller Awards. I've yet to watch the whole programme. I shall list any other relevant awards as I learn of them.

The Official Papers Into The Matter Known As The Hound of the Baskervilles

Some time ago I reviewed a book which was sold on the basis that it provided you with facsimiles of documents that were pertinent to a number of Sherlock Holmes's cases. One of these cases was The Hound of the Baskervilles. The result was a very disappointing offering that was more akin to a monthly magazine collection than a serious Sherlockian work.

Consequently, when I was asked to cast my eye over The Official Papers Into The Matter Known As The Hound of the Baskervilles I very much feared more of the same. Fortunately my fears were largely unfounded. The author Mr Freeburn has mined the original story and other tomes on the subject and used this information and his experience as a former CID officer to produce a series of authentic looking papers.

What you get are police reports, witness statements, coroners' reports, post-mortem findings and correspondence between various police figures that were supposedly involved in the events of the novel even if that involvement was out of the book's scope.

One of the most enjoyable aspects is the exchange of correspondence between figures in the Devon constabulary and Scotland Yard over what they see as an unwarranted breech of protocol in Holmes summoning a Scotland Yard Inspector (Lestrade) to Devon rather than making use of the local force. One can easily imagine such events taking place behind the scenes and it helps give the story some valuable background even if it did not come from the pen of Conan Doyle himself.

However there are downsides. As has been pointed out in other reviews, the forename of the convict Selden changes and there is the odd spelling mistake. In one of the facsimile newspapers your attention is drawn to the spelling mistakes which are underlined. This is presumably because they were being identified by the software that was used to create them. There are other mistakes which could have been easily ironed out if the book had been put before another Sherlockian in advance of publication.

The other downside is the chosen font which the author recognises as an issue and warns you about. The vast majority of the book is written in a sloping font designed to mimic handwriting. Whilst it adds authenticity it makes the book very hard to read and, in my case, I had to regularly stop in order to avoid a headache. In hindsight I think it would have been better to have put some (or all) of the "handwritten" documents into an appendix and present more readable versions in the front. Then again this would no doubt have made the book more expensive.

In summary, this is a good book that largely achieves what it sets out to do. It is slightly let down by some relatively minor mistakes and an eye-straining font but undeniably adds another dimension to one of Sherlock Holmes's greatest cases.

Lack of recognition

Some readers of this blog (especially if you've read "Close to Holmes" or "The Norwood Author") will know that I was responsible for a South Norwood pub erecting a display marking Arthur Conan Doyle's residency in the area. I have just noticed a sign that greets people as they emerge from the station.  It commemorates William Stanley.

Now I realise that Stanley did a lot for the area, in fact I wrote a little about it in my latest book "The Norwood Author", but Conan Doyle should be mentioned also. Stanley means little to anyone outside South Norwood (and probably little to many who live there) whereas people the world over have heard of Arthur Conan Doyle.

I'm not suggesting that Stanley be overlooked but Conan Doyle, if mentioned correctly, could do something for the are economically.