Tag Archives: victorian london

New review of Close To Holmes

As a London tour guide, writing a walk about Sherlock Holmes and trying to track down actual and fictional locations in the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was no easy feat. I needed to get into the head of ACD and look at his view of London in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I didn’t achieve that, however Alistair Duncan’s “Close to Holmes” gave me a good pen-picture of Victorian London that ACD would have known and where he probably placed Sherlock Holmes adventures in London. To channel a well-known United States politician, when tracking down Sherlock Holmes locations there are ‘known knowns’, i.e. actual places like Barts Hospital. There are ‘known unknowns’, fictional locations based on real ones, e.g ‘Where is Saxe-coburg Square?’. Tracking these, and better still, having your theories accepted, is a never-ending game for Sherlockians. In “Close to Holmes” Alistair Duncan informatively entertainingly describes the ‘known knowns’ and elegantly extrapolates without lurching into speculation, the possibilities of the ‘known unknowns’. A companion/gazetteer that should be in easy reach on every Sherlockian’s bookshelf.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA,  Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK,  Waterstones UK,  Book Depository(free worldwide delivery), Amazon Kindle,  Kobo, Nook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.



Tags: , ,

Visiting London And Looking For A Different Kind Of Travel Guide?

So you are on your way to London and you want to visit some of the best places, but don’t want to be the average kind of tourist? Several visitors from the USA in particular are turning the clock back 100 years and following in the footsteps of the world’s most famous detective – Sherlock Holmes. Holmes historian Alistair Duncan came up with the brilliant idea of basing a guide around the places that appear in Holmes stories, but that were also dear to the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

‘Close To Holmes’ takes us around the main locations and includes some of my particular favourites as well. The British Museum was featured in several stories and was a particular favourite of Conan Doyle’s. Alistair combines a light and friendly commentary with pictures from the late 1800s and the modern day.

Regent Street c1880

Regent Street c1880

“Reading it, we feel that we’re in the company of a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and witty friend. The book is both valuable and a pleasure to read. As much a historical and literary exploration as a travel guide” The Sherlock Holmes Society of London

There are several of London’s oldest hotels in the book including the Savoy and The Langham along with very famous streets such as Pall Mall, Charing Cross Road, The Strand and of course the home of Sherlock Holmes himself Baker Street.

Also worth a visit are Covent Garden and Scotland Yard that have their own chapters in the book.

There is a growing Facebook group of those that have used the book as a guide with their own comments and pictures – Close To Holmes Photo Stories.

For those lucky people with an Amazon Kindle the book has been recently launched on Kindle and its the perfect way to take the guide with you – Close To Holmes on Kindle.

Close To Holmes

Close To Holmes


Tags: , , , ,

Facebook Community Marketing – Sherlock Holmes Groups

Alistair Duncan’s last book Close To Holmes is a companion for those Sherlock Holmes fans that visit London and want to retrace the steps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (ACD) and visit the places that featured in the Holmes stories and those that were dear to the author.

This sets the scene for what Facebook does best – bring together people with very specific interests to share information and images about their chosen subject. In this case it is Sherlock Holmes fans that have used Alistair’s book on a visit to London – Close to Holmes Photo Stories.

There are hundreds of thousands of groups on Facebook and those that seem to be enduring are those that have a reason for lots of additional content on a regular basis – keeping the group members coming back again and again . Alistair’s is an excellent example of that – the key element of the group is the photos from the Holmes fans as they visit the various locations around London – including The British Museum, Covent Garden, Norwood, Croydon and dozens more.

In June this year another book Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Devon: A Complete Tour Guide & Companion will cover ACD’s time in Devon and showing the changing times will include all the GPS locations for all of the sites so that the intrepid fans armed with their iPhones (and no doubt iPads by then) and other GPS enabled devices will be able to effortlessly travel around without the need to print maps.

No doubt author Paul R Spiring will create a similar group on Facebook. Both authors have excellent blogs to support their online activities – in fact, Paul’s BFROnline is one of the most visited Holmes and ACD blogs in the world despite being originally set up to chart ACD’s close friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson‘s (BFR) short but stunning life.

Close To Holmes

Close To Holmes

So the new world for authors, where they themselves are becoming brands also means learning a whole new series of marketing tools that didn’t exist a few years ago. So set up your Facebook group and drive traffic to it from your Blog and Tweets and reflect back to the day when marketing as a publisher meant faxes and promo sheets in the post to the dozens of bookstore chains (RIP Borders, only Waterstones and the independents left now).


Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: