Valerie Estelle Frankel,
Sherlock: Every Canon Reference You May Have Missed in BBC's Series 1-3
(LitCrit, 2014)

I have only a passing familiarity with Sherlock Holmes.

I've read only a few of Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, a deficit in my literary experience that I keep intending to remedy. I've seen some of the movies and shows that have adapted or played off the Holmes character, and over the past couple of years I've become a fan of both Sherlock and Elementary, two equally excellent, but incredibly diverse modern interpretations of the legend.

Valerie Estelle Frankel is far more invested in the Holmesian tradition than I. In fact, one might assume she has studied the great detective's many lives under a magnifying glass, deerstalker cap firmly planted on her head.

Her book, Sherlock: Every Canon Reference You May Have Missed in BBC's Series 1-3, is an exhaustive bit of research. She examines the particulars of the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as his erstwhile companion, Dr. John Watson, and she relates every plot twist, every minor character, every tiny clue and textual reference to Doyle's original work, as well as the various classic screen portrayals.

I suspect the reading would be a little dry if you saw down and read the book through -- unless, I suppose, you are a true Holmes fanatic. I instead kept the book handy, and each day I read one or two chapters, most connected to a single episode and its many references.

Frankel examines each episode's title, its story, connections to canon, locations, innuendo (are Holmes and Watson more than friends?), ties to the actors' outside work and references to pop and British culture, such as the closely connected series Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the protagonists' work on The Hobbit.

It's a little daunting to see how much work the show's makers put into these little Easter eggs for fans, and it's even more so to imagine how much time Frankel spent finding them all.

This is a great book for fans of Holmes, Doyle, Cumberbatch and Freeman. One wonders if Frankel is hard at work on a similar volume for Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu!

book review by
Tom Knapp

13 December 2014

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