Sherlock Holmes Society of London
"This comprehensive directory of every character in the Canon sensibly proceeds in a simple alphabetical format (by character rather than story) and, equally sensibly, has a comprehensive index. Characters I didn’t even consider characters are represented, such as Desborough, a horse from Silver Blaze. If it had a name it’s in the book!
For each character we are given the name, story, sex, and whether they are alive or dead in the Canon. In addition, depending on the importance of the character, are details which can range from physical appearance to occupation and, if relevant, what Holmes deduced about them. Holmes himself has a predictably long entry, whereas, for instance, Captain Ferguson (“The Three Gables”) is concisely described: “A retired sea captain who owned the house before Mrs Maberley. Holmes asked if there was anything about remarkable about him, and if he had buried something. Mrs Maberley answered in the negative.”
Illustrations by all manner of artists are included; it is very interesting to see how the different illustrators approached their commissions.
Finally, there are three tables, listing the stories in order of occurrence (though Foy does not say which chronology he has used); in alphabetical order, by four-letter abbreviation; and in order of publication.
The book is large and over 500 pages — rather cumbersome, but when it is this comprehensive it’s hard to see how it could have been smaller. Some might be deterred by the price. To them I would say that if you don’t already have such a book, it is very much worth it. If you do, and you are not a completist, you might decide this one is not for you. I would buy it, even though I already own similar books."
I’m not the first to note the amazingness of this new book. It’s massive – pushing 600 pages. It’s beautiful inside and out. And it’s invaluable. Foy has examined The Canon to list every character, along with providing many illustrations taken from numerous sources. I’ve been looking at Holmes reference books and different editions of The Canon for decades, and I have no idea how Foy found all of these various images. And it isn’t limited to Canonical characters either – he does the same for historical figures, and even animals that are mentioned in The Canon.
There have been other books that list characters, but with nothing more than short descriptive lines taken from the stories in which they appear. This is an important visual guide, but even more than that, it finds Sherlockian illustrations that haven’t ever been seen before by most fans. I’ve been a Sherlockian Student for what’s approaching fifty years, and this book was full of first-time surprises. I highly recommend it.
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