Sherlock Holmes Handbook sums up a Canadian scholar’s lifetime expertise about Sherlock Holmes – the characters and themes, the publishers and readers, Victorian London and the Houdini connection, radio actors and cartoonists, the fans who cling to Holmes’s reality and the professors who tease out motifs from the fifty-six short stories and four novels.
The first edition of Sherlock Holmes Handbook appeared in 1993. This edition catches up on new films, new books (a few with a hint of the supernatural) and the advent of the Internet, which has spread Holmes’s fame and Sherlockian fun even further worldwide. The intervening years have brought three multi-volume editions of the Sherlock Holmes stories, with hundreds of footnotes providing new insights and new amusement. They have also seen Holmes repeatedly on the amateur and professional stages, including a few Canadian productions. And there have been changes to everything from copyright rules to libraries, booksellers and audio recordings.
Canadian author Redmond's unquestioned standing as a Sherlock Holmes expert, manifested in books such as In Bed with Sherlock Holmes and Welcome to America, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, is not displayed to best advantage in this updated edition of his guide to the Great Detective. He simply doesn't meet his goal of writing a comprehensive companion to the original stories and the cultural world that has grown up around them that will satisfy both neophytes and cognoscenti. Instead, both kinds of readers are likely to be disappointed. Only 25 pages are spent summarizing the Canon, in some cases spoiling the plots, but 40 are devoted to "Fans and Followers," a history of organized devotees of Holmes and Watson. Despite the author's pride in avoiding errors in the first edition, this one is not free of them, including the assertion that a "Merivale" was one of the Scotland Yarders pitted against Holmes by Doyle to the claim that actor Jeremy Brett authored the play he appeared in, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes. Those in search of a one-volume guide might want to wait for Sherlock Holmes for Dummies.