The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas is funny and conversational and passionate and made me fall in love with Holmes and Watson and their many adventures all over again.
Dundas includes a bit of everything, from Arthur Conan Doyle’s biography to real-life walks around London to meetings of the Baker Street Irregulars to interviews with well-regarded fanfiction writers. He talks about all of the theatrical, radio, television, and cinematic versions of the stories right up through Sherlock and Elementary, and makes the point that every generation creates their Sherlock Holmes anew–Holmes is a kind of cultural barometer.
As a fan of literary histories I also appreciated the insights into how Doyle came to write the Sherlock Holmes stories, and where they fit into their contemporary culture (or, as time went on, didn’t fit in so well). The discussion of the fandom surrounding these characters was enlightening, too. If a little scary.
(…in that it hits a bit close to home)
In all, this is a glorious romp through all things Holmes and Watson brimming with passion and fun. Dundas is a wonderfully funny guy, and his conversational style and footnotes make you feel like he’s telling you all that he’s discovered about Sherlock over coffee at a bookstore. One fan to another.
The book includes Dundas’s personal must-read list of the original stories, and fantastic source notes. There’s a whole Sherlockian world out there. Me, I’m going to curl up with my Annotated Sherlock Holmes for a bit. I’ll enjoy it on a whole new level now.