Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Book Review – The Wrong Passage


This book is a comprehensive look at the Sherlock Holmes story The Golden Pince-Nez. It contains a facsimile of the original manuscript along with comprehensive annotation and supporting essays. It forms part of the excellent Baker Street Irregulars Manuscript Series.

The editors remark that it is an under-appreciated story which is a sentiment that I agree with. In many respects this is a classic whodunit involving a small number of characters within a relatively confined space. It is also, in my opinion, one of the best stories from The Return of Sherlock Holmes. This series of thirteen stories made regular use of the deliberate hiding of something or someone. Out of the thirteen The Norwood Builder, The Six Napoleons, The Second Stain and The Golden Pince-Nez all involved something or someone being deliberately concealed. That's nearly a third of the entire series.

The book opens with a look at the origins of the story – how it came into being and some curiosities about the manuscript itself. It certainly educated me on a number of aspects that I’d been ignorant of before. In particular, I found the details about the number of different floor plans that appeared in different editions of the story to be fascinating. The facsimile follows this history and it, in turn, is followed by a series of related essays. These look at the actual unrest in Russia that forms the backdrop to the story all the way to a look at the eponymous spectacles.

Anna's suicide and the spectacles themselves
In my reading I noticed but one mistake and it was not serious. In an essay entitled Out of the Past, Bertram Fletcher Robinson’s detective Addington Peace is mentioned but is referred to as Addison Peace.


All in all, this is an excellent book. I would not say it was an entry-level volume though. If your interest in Sherlock Holmes is new and you desire to delve into some of the more esoteric aspects I would not recommend that you start your delving with this book.





For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

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