Tag Archives: arthur conan doyle

The Conan Doyle Notes is shortlisted for Best Suspense novel in the LOVEY Awards

The Conan Doyle Notes is shortlisted for Best Suspense novel in the LOVEY Awards

Black Stiletto: Secrets and Lies / Raymond Benson
Once Upon a Crime / Evelyn Cullet
The Conan Doyle Notes / Diane Gilbert Madsen
Titania’s Suitor / C.L. Shore
The House on the Dunes / Nancy Sweetland
Murder Across the Ocean / Charlene Wexler

Winners will be announced at the Love Is Murder Conference in Chicago on February 7th.

The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper paperback edition is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon KindleKobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

the conan doyle notes


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“The literary archaeologists at Madame Eulalie have unearthed yet another rare Wodehouse tidbit from the distant past – a set of four playlets of political satire in pantomime form, jointly credited to Sir Plum and one Bertram Fletcher Robinson. The first, “A Fiscal Pantomime – The Sleeping Beauty” was published in the London Daily Express on Christmas Day 1903; the next was “Our Christmas Pantomime – Little Red Riding Hood; or, The Virtuous British Public and the Smart Set Wolf” which appeared inVanity Fair on December 8, 1904; “A Winter’s Tale – King Arthur and His Court” from Vanity Fair, December 14, 1905, and finally “The Progressives Progress – Some memories of 1906” which appeared inThe World, January 1, 1907.

For the uninitiated, pantomime is an art form rooted in antiquity and it has a strong link to Commedia dell’arte; it evolved as an English entertainment in the eighteenth century. Performed at Christmas, pantomime was (and is) a form of theatre incorporating song, dance, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references and audience participation. Pantomimes are usually based on traditional fairy tales but adapted for comic or satirical effect as other characters and situations arise. Traditions include the leading male juvenile character (principal boy) to be played by a young woman, usually in tight-fitting male garments that make her gender evident; An older woman (the dame) is usually played by a man in drag. The animal is played by an actor in animal costume, often a horse or cow played by two actors in a single costume. Audience participation includes calls of “He’s behind you!” or (“Look behind you!”), and “Oh, yes it is!” and “Oh, no it isn’t!” The audience boos the villain and “awwwwws” the poor “victim” as in nineteenth-century melodrama.

The Wodehouse-Robinson pantos parody the debate in Britain surrounding tariff reform and proposed changes to tax law. The heroes (conservative) and villains (liberal) are variously represented: Little Red Riding Hood is played by “The Virtuous British Public” while King Arthur is “(Prime Minister) A.J. Balfour;” The Unionist Party is personified by “Queen Guinevere” and in Sleeping Beauty, The Tariff Reform League is portrayed by the “A dragon.”

Although they weren’t intended for actual production, while reading these farces the reader can certainly imagine himself amidst a raucous London Christmas audience of a century ago, delighting at the buffoons and heroes, the slapstick, the wicked political satire, the ridiculous costumery. Pantomime music most often combines well-known songs with lyrics re-written for the occasion, which encourage audiences to sing along as well. (Pantomime is seldom performed in the United States, and Americans misunderstand the word “pantomime” to refer to the art of “mime.”)

Bertram Fletcher Robinson (whose name evokes the recollection of how PGW sold “Something New” to the Saturday Evening Post under the grand name Pelham Grenville Wodehouse) was eleven years PGW’s senior. A well-liked writer of articles, satirical playlets, short stories, lyrics, numerous articles, poems and books, Robinson is today known primarily for assisting his friend Arthur Conan Doyle with the plot of The Hound of the Baskervilles….”

Read the full article here.

Bobbles and Plum, a PG Wodehouse Playlets Book by Paul R Spiring is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA AmazonBarnes and Noble and Classic Specialities, in the UK AmazonWaterstones and Book Depository (free delivery worldwide).


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Sherlock’s Home – Call For Corporate Sponsors

In the coming weeks the courts will make the final decision on Undershaw, Conan Doyle’s former home. It has been the subject of a long running battle between the developers who seek to destroy it, and the band of Sherlock Holmes fans who are fighting to save it and return it to its former glory.

(Undershaw today, neglected and run down)

The high court ruled in favour of the fans – the developers appealed – that was defeated too – now they have appealed the rejection of the appeal (come on….). Now we just have to wait for that to get looked at and then we’re done: you’ve got to love the British judicial system (not).

In the meantime the UPT (Undershaw Preservation Trust) are putting together a fundraising committee of ten to twelve volunteers whose job it will be to raise the money needed to restore Undershaw back to its former glory. Due to the negligence of the developers [the high court case highlighted at least two instances where they broke the law in not keeping the building safe whilst the court case raged on] the job is considerably bigger than it needed to have been. It’s estimated that the team will need £2.5m (around $4m) to restore and prepare the building.

(Undershaw as it used to look)

This is where Sherlock Holmes fans around the world have plenty of ways of getting involved. Most of you will be aware of the book ‘Sherlock’s Home: The Empty House’ which was compiled by BBC Sherlock fan site Sherlockology and whose royalties all go to the trust. Many of you have bought the book and many have joined the trust’s Save Undershaw Facebook Page.

Now I’d like to suggest something else. Corporate sponsorship. We live in an era where Football, Baseball and Soccer stadiums around the world have corporate sponsors – even the theatre bar I was in a few weeks ago in London carried the support logo of their sponsor American Airlines. So why now Undershaw? On a purely brutal front, there is lots of very positive brand exposure to be had to be linked to this quite amazing story how a group of fans (led by John Gibson) have managed to save an incredible building against all the odds.

(campaigner and Holmes actor Derek Wood by a boarded up Undershaw)

My first stop for corporate sponsors are the corporations that have, especially in recent times, made some serious money from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Let’s remember, that if it wasn’t for Undershaw, none of that money would have been made, there would have been no Sherlock Holmes.

I am deadly serious here. Few people realise that Undershaw is where Conan Doyle brought Holmes back to life and where he created the The Hound of The Baskervilles that catapulted Holmes from simply a ‘fairly popular’ detective, to a worldwide phenomenon. Without Undershaw, we wouldn’t be enjoying Holmes today.

So yes, Warner Brothers, Undershaw has given you two blockbuster movies that have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. Yes, BBC (I know you are a public corporation but you still are able to sponsor), you have this building to thank for the prolific success of BBC Sherlock. And how about CBS with Elementary…. I’m sure you guys will make a few bucks out of that too.

Now I am not suggesting any of these corporations hand over the millions that are required (though that would be nice) but it certainly would be fitting for them to be involved. There are plans to include a museum element to the restored house and it would be brilliant to have a Holmes on screen section with costumes and momentos from the films and TV series.

But here is the crux of this article, it’s a call out to the Holmes fans around the world who by day work for big corporations in many fields of expertise. There are plenty of ways for companies to get involved – especially any of those involved in construction. There will be plenty of opportunity for publicity – that’s one thing the Holmes fan base is really good at. There are dozens of rooms in the house and I am sure there is the opportunity for corporations to sponsor perhaps Conan Doyle’s study, the library of Holmes books that will be created – or perhaps the stunning stained glass window which surely every future visitor will stop to admire….

Corporations can write off donations like this against tax and use the association with the house for entertainment of key clients. A private tour of the house where Sherlock Holmes came back to life? Now that’s what I call special corporate entertainment…..

If you have an idea of how your company can get involved in the restoration and running of Undershaw please contact the UPT through the Save Undershaw Facebook page.

And if you haven’t got hold of a copy of the book ‘Sherlock’s Home’ its available from all good bookstores and in all formats – AmazonBarnes and NobleBook Depository (free worldwide delivery), Kindle , Kobo , Nook, and iTunes.


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Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews An Entirely New Country

An Entirely New CountryWhen his last book won the 2011 Howlett Award (Shelock Holmes Book of The Year) it was always going to be tough for Alistair Duncan to meet expectations with his next one. Thankfully he does that, and more, in arguably one of the best books ever written on Conan Doyle. An Entirely New Country went down so well with co-creator of BBC’s Sherlock, Mark Gatiss that he agreed to provide the foreword.The Sherlock Holmes Society of London has now reviewed the book in their latest newsletter and they agree to the importance of the book. Holmes fans have fed back that in addition to being historically significant the book is also an excellent read.

“Alistair Duncan’s Eliminate the Impossible was a very good start, and Close to Holmes confirmed him as a truly important writer in our field. In The Norwood Author he illuminated, as no previous biographer had, an essential period in the life of Conan Doyle, when Sherlock Holmes leapt to international fame – and his creator killed him. Now An Entirely New Country: Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw and the Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes throws light on the drama of the years that followed, when Conan Doyle and his family lived in Undershaw, the house he’d had built at Hindhead, where conditions were favourable for his invalid wife Louise. Hindhead was also the centre of an informal community of writers and artists.

During the Undershaw years Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. He served as a field surgeon in the Boer War and wrote a full history of the conflict. He adopted the cause of the wrongly convicted George Edalji. He was knighted. And he fell in love with Jean Leckie, who would become his second wife. Today, Undershaw is in a sad state, empty and threatened by inappropriate ‘development’. It’s fitting that the foreword to this admirable book was written by Mark Gatiss, the Patron of the Undershaw Preservation Trust. See

An Entirely New Country is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, The Mysterious Bookshop (New York), Classic Specialities and in a simply stunning Kindle version that includes the dozens of photos in  all their digital glory. If you are lucky enough to have a Kindle Fire we can report back that the colour photos come out really well on it.


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The Ill Dressed Vagabond Reviews The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes“This is a pleasing book, whether the reader is a casual admirer of the Sherlockian Canon or a true aficionado”.

The Ill Dressed Vagabond (aka Philip K Jones) is one of the world’s leading Sherlock Holmes reviewers. He maintains a huge online database of stories and pastiches. Here he reviews the collection of short fiction from Gerard Kelly – The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes.

“This collection brought back a number of old friends and introduced me to a pair of new acquaintances.  Eleven of these tales were published in pamphlet format in 1999.  They have not been easy to find and several were later reprinted in a small, single volume collection.  In any case, the sequence in which they were presented differs in a few details from the sequence they appear here.  I am sure the author took the opportunity to correct any of the trifling errors that may have appeared in the original publications when this new collection was produced.  A cursory examination revealed no changes from pamphlet to Trade Paperback, however, I am sure there are some that I simply did not notice.

These stories take place at various times during Holmes’ career and at a number of different locales.  Most are well written and seem to echo the Canon, although they are, in general, more ‘emotional’ than the Canonical tales.  Also, in common with the Canon, some of these tales are better or, at least, more satisfying than the others.  There are a number of interesting characters introduced and several familiar faces grace these pages.  Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade are the most frequently met characters other than Holmes and Watson, but several new faces are quite fascinating.  I was particularly taken by the Spanish Ambassador who appears in one of the original tales.

The two new stories are “Catacusis Ebriosus” and “The Peddler of Death.”  ‘Catacusis’ was published earlier in “Curious Incidents II,” a collection edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolac.  I do not record an earlier appearance of “The Peddler of Death.”  Both are certainly worth including in any collection of Sherlockian fiction.

Most of these stories rate being classed as novellas, as they exceed twenty pages in length.  This is, of course, an arbitrary definition, but I have found it useful for describing different sorts of tales.  The point is that most of these stories are long enough to allow the author to develop characters and events in some detail. Usually, the short story format forces the author to concentrate on the action involved and has little time for complexities or character traits. In this collection, the author demonstrates that the true monsters in the World are all too human.  Nothing is so truly frightening as the ability of humans to terrify and torture one another.

This is a pleasing book, whether the reader is a casual admirer of the Sherlockian Canon or a true aficionado.  A few purists may take issue with the timing of several of the tales, but I suspect the author can justify his choices of time and place with little trouble.  I am not sure that the occasional use of extra-natural events is truly justified, however, such forays are not germane to the solution of the crimes and only offer some explanation for otherwise unexplained external events”

The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is available through all leading bookstores worldwide including Amazon, via Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, and iBooks (iPad and iPhone) and various other formats. If you’d like to stage one of the stories as a play you can get in touch with Gerry through us here.


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The Bookbag Reviews The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock HolmesTo get a four star review from The Bookbag is impressive, and all the more so if it is your debut book. Gerry Kelly gets a very solid thumbs up for his collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories;

“I’ll spare people the details of Holmes and Watson as crime-solvers – I’m assuming anyone likely to pick this one up is probably familiar with the Victorian duo. This is generally very faithful to the Arthur Conan Doyle originals and the best stories in this set of thirteen sound authentic enough to take their place alongside some of the canon.

The strong points of the collection are numerous, chiefly being an excellent attempt at capturing Conan Doyle’s style of writing which makes Kelly’s Watson convincingly close to the original for the most part. There’s also some ingenious plotting in some of the stories – my personal favourites being The Mayfair Strangler, The Mysterious Death of the Kensington Verger, The Mystery of the Locked Study, and The Adventure of the Black Arrow. Holmes is also given plenty of opportunities to dazzle both his companion and the reader with observations about people he’s only just met, which were always some of my favourite moments in the original stories and raise just as much of a smile here…”

You can read the whole review at The Bookbag website.

The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is available through all leading bookstores worldwide including Amazon, via Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, and iBooks (iPad and iPhone) and various other formats. If you’d like to stage one of the stories as a play you can get in touch with Gerry through us here.


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Interview with Gerard Kelly, Author of The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock HolmesGerry Kelly’s collection of 13 (a Baker’s Street dozen as he calls it) Sherlock Holmes mysteries first came to light in a limited edition hardback volume a few years ago and garnered a lot of praise from Holmes societies around the world. The collection is back in new updated edition being published worldwide and we caught up with Gerry to ask him abou the collection’s second outing.

What was your main inspiration for the book?

When I was a young man I was, (and still am) a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. All too soon, however, I had read the complete collection and wanted more! So I tried reading some of the pastiche Holmes stories that were out there at that time. I’m afraid I was bitterly disappointed. Almost all of them had the authentic style and dialogue of the originals, but were woefully weak on the plots. I thought to myself, ‘I could write better stories myself, than some of these pastiches’, so there was my inspiration. In modern times the choice is much better and the bar has been raised by authors like Tony Reynold (Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes).

What is your favourite aspect of the book?

I like the fact that although each story can be read on its own, there are links between them and the first story is definitely linked to the last.

What is your favourite story from the collection?

I would have to say that possibly The Chamber of Sorrow Mystery because I found it so moving, that I actually wept during the writing of it.

What book are you reading at the moment?

THE 4% UNIVERSE, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality. By Richard Panek. As you may tell from this choice, my other passion, apart from Sherlock Holmes, is science. My heroes are Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Steven Hawking etc. I love cosmology, palaeontology, geology and those related subjects.

What is the best part of being a Holmes pastiche writer?

The fact that the characters already exist and are all household names. Everyone knows them and therefore my task of characterisation is almost totally eliminated.

The most famous pastiches of the current generation are the BBC’s Sherlock and the movies from Guy Richie – what do you think of them?

I enjoyed the BBC’s Sherlock and thought it a novel twist to set it in the present day. However, I am still a traditionalist and prefer the original settings. I’m afraid I haven’t seen the Guy Richie film yet.

Illustrations were an important part of the original stories in The Strand – is that what encouraged you to add in some throughout your collection?

Yes indeed. The Strand Magazine illustrations, by Sidney Paget, were the inspiration for my own humble attempts to replicate that same format. I hoped that the drawings would add an extra dimension to the narrative. They certainly did in the originals.

Do I have any plans for more stories?

Just a couple, but no where near enough for a full book at this stage. I am still hoping for inspiration.

Which of Conan Doyle’s characters is your favourite?

My favourite character, apart from Sherlock himself and Dr. Watson, would probably be the American, Jonas T Rimmer. As well as being a protege of the Napoleon of Crime, Rimmer is a cunning psychopath, very nearly as clever as Moriarty, and is Holmes’ ultimate nemesis in the book. All the world loves a lover, but many people are drawn to an arch villain too, and that includes me.

What question would I ask Conan Doyle if I were to meet him?

How on earth did he manage to come up with so many plots for his stories? I struggled to find thirteen. I would also like to say to him that I hope he would not be offended by being copied by pastiche-writers like me, and that he would be of the opinion that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!

What else are you working on at the moment?

I would dearly love to see one of my Sherlock Holmes stories acted out on the stage, and so to this end I re-wrote one of the mysteries, The Mayfair Strangler in the format of a stage play. No easy feat, as other writers out there will testify if they have tried the switch from author to playwright! The result, I thought, was pretty good, so I sent it to Neville Roby, Theatre Manager at the Garrick Playhouse in Altrincham, near to where I live. He was not as enthusiastic as I was, but offered me some hope by saying, …With some more work on the script it may merit a further look in due course and we invite you to submit it again for consideration at a later date. Please let us know if it is presented at some other theatre and we will make every effort to come and see it in order to get a better idea of its suitability for this theatre. Not the worst rejection I’ve ever had…… Suitably encouraged I wrote again to Neville suggesting another story from my book called The Chamber of Sorrow Mystery. This time, however, I didn’t go to the trouble of actually writing the stage play, I just sent him the story, with the promise that, if successful, I would then write the stage script. At this moment in time the story is being considered by the Play Selection and Casting Committee, at the Garrick. Wish me luck!

The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is available through all leading bookstores worldwide including Amazon, via Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, and iBooks (iPad and iPhone) and various other formats. If you’d like to stage one of the stories as a play you can get in touch with Gerry through us here.


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Wheels of Anarchy – Max Pemberton Thriller on International Terrorism From 1908 Reprinted

First published in 1908, Wheels of Anarchy – The Story of An Assassin was written by Max Pemberton, a friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, from notes of another friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson. Fans of James Bond should take a look at this fascinating novel which makes Bond seem a little tame. Considering it was written at the turn of the last century, the subject of international terrorism is surprisingly modern. A recent review of the reprint is published in this month’s District Messenger.

“Robinson or Pemberton may have discussed the story with their friend Conan Doyle, but the narrator, Bruce Ingersoll, is no Sherlock Holmes. Like the heroes of those other unputdownable Edwardian thrillers The Riddle of the Sands and The Thirty-Nine Steps, he’s an ordinary, decent, educated man with an adventurous streak. The peril he faces is extraordinary and strikingly modern – international terrorism. It’s a gripping tale, grippingly told” Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

The book is available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK and all good bookstores.

Wheels of Anarchy

Wheels of Anarchy - Max Pemberton


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A World Without Sherlock Holmes? – That Would Be The Reality Without Bertram Fletcher Robinson

In 2011 we finally have the irrefutable evidence behind the success of the Sherlock Holmes character and it was unveiled by Devon author and Holmes investigator, Paul R Spiring. In a local newspaper articles from the Herald Express and Western Morning News and in a BBC Wales radio interview Paul revealed how he came across the letters that prove that Arthur Conan Doyle had more than a little help with the key story that launched Holmes worldwide.

Winding the clock back to the early 20th century and Arthur Conan Doyle had killed Holmes off and while the character had achieved some limited success, this was largely restricted to the UK. A lifelong friend of Conan Doyle’s was a young man, himself an accomplished writer, called Bertram Fletcher Robinson. Not much was known about Robinson, other than that he had died tragically young, before the acclaimed biography published in 2008 called simply ‘Betram Fletcher Robinson – A Footnote To The Hound Of The Baskervilles‘ written and compiled by Spiring and Brian W Pugh.

In the biography Spiring and Pugh talk about the great friendship between Robinson and Conan Doyle and how they had ‘collaborated’ on ‘The H0und’ and that Robinson was often referred to as the ‘assistant plot producer’ for the book. The biography talks about a very talented writer who also collaborated with such big names as PG Wodehouse – you can read their main works in the 2009 book ‘Bobbles and Plum‘, and Max Pemberton on ‘Wheels of Anarchy‘ , but it was his friendship with Conan Doyle that is of the greatest interest.

Without a doubt if it wasn’t for ‘The Hound‘ there would be no Sherlock Holmes today. No movies, no BBC TV series, no legions of fans around the world. It was the story that turned Holmes into the worldwide phenomenon that has led to millions of fans, many films, hundreds of books and and ongoing legacy for Conan Doyle.

So what has Spiring uncovered? Quite simply the written proof that Conan Doyle paid his friend the modern day equivalent of £45,000 [£500 at the time] for his help on the story. Conan Doyle was due to receive an estimated £1/2m in modern day values for the story so the payment to Robinson was about 10% of what Conan Doyle was to get. This proves, beyond reasonable doubt, that Robinson made a significant contribution to the storyline. It is well documented that Conan Doyle lent on friends and particularly family for ideas and indeed characters for his storylines but for him to go as far as handing over such a huge sum of money for the input is significant.

What a shame it is that Robinson was taken from us at such a young age, dying shortly after from poisoning [in his biography Spring and Pugh go into the accusations that Conan Doyle was the one that poisoned him]. He was a very talented writer of similar storylines to Conan Doyle as well as the playlets he wrote with Wodehouse. You can read twenty of his stories in ‘Aside Arthur Conan Doyle‘ which was also compiled by Spiring.

So in summary, all Holmes fans need to give a big thanks to Bertram Fletcher Robinson, without whom they would not have their wonderful character – and personally a big thankyou to Paul Spiring for proving it once and for all.

ACD, Sherlock Holmes and Devon

ACD, Sherlock Holmes and Devon

Bertram Fletcher Robinson

Aside ACD


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Book Review – The Official Papers into the Matter Known as ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ – Sherlock Holmes Society of London

As a retired detective with the Metropolitan Police Keiron Freeburn has excellent experience which he has used to great effect with a very unusual take on The Hound of The Baskervilles. As with several reviews of this fascinating book the societies have been tough on the small mistakes, but another resounding thumbs up for a very unusual and memorable Holmes pastiche.

“What we have here, apparently, are facsimiles of the original case files from both Scotland Yard and Devon County Constabulary. In fact this collection of witness statements, medical reports, and police reports is the work of a former member of the Metropolitan Police CID, now living in Devon. The project is very nicely done, providing a fresh and completely valid view of the investigation. In particular it’s good to know how the two police forces regarded the summoning of a Scotland Yard man without reference to the Devon Constabulary!

There are some careless errors (the post-mortem report on Sir Charles Baskerville has Sir Henry’s name on the first page; Mrs Lyons is called “Miss Lyons” throughout; Selden’s name changes from Arthur to Albert; Barrymore once refers to his wife as his sister). Such matters are easily attended to, though. A corrected edition of this fascinating and very worthwhile new look at a familiar classic will be something to treasure.”

The book is available from all good bookstores around the world – as the whole point of the book is the Victorian fonts the book is only available in printed format [so no Kindle or iPad versions].

In the USA the book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

In the UK the book is available from Amazon, Book Depository [free worldwide delivery], and Waterstones.

Official Papers into the matter of The Hound of The Baskervilles

Official Papers into the matter of The Hound of The Baskervilles

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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Book Reviews


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