Review of The Adventure of the Wordy Companion: An A-Z Guide to Sherlockian Phraseology

Posted by Steve Emecz on

As a writer of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, I’ve been waiting years for a book like Nicko Vaughan’s “The Adventure of the Wordy Companion: An A-Z Guide to Sherlockian Phraseology.” A glossary of selected terms, phrases, and references from the original canon of Sherlock Holmes stories, this collection offers writers and readers alike a treasure of Holmesian information. Oh, sure, most of the alphabetical listings appear in the annotated versions of the Holmes stories (if you own such collections), but specific references are most difficult to locate if you don’t know the exact place to look. Want to know what a “lumber room” is? Or a minstrel’s gallery? How about a Penang-lawyer? You can easily discover the answers in “The Wordy Companion.”

To be sure, a stickler can find things to quibble about. Some adverbs and adjectives are defined as verbs (the definition of the adverb “askance,” for instance, begins with an infinitive verb: “to perceive something, or someone as suspicious…”). And at the expense of the celebrated actor William Gillette, whose world-famous performance as Holmes premiered in 1899, the book’s introduction misidentifies the 1908 performance of German actor Alwin Neuss as the “first depiction of Sherlock Holmes.” But in light of the practical nature of the book, such distractions are negligible.

As someone who out of necessity has constructed his own list of important terms from Holmes stories, I’m thrilled to be able to flip through this book to find just the right word or term for what I’m trying to say—and learn some interesting facts and definitions along the way. “The Wordy Companion” maintains a prominent position on my desk.

Reviewed by Daniel D. Victor

The Adventure of the Wordy Companion is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in KindleKoboNook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).


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