The Elementary Sherlock Holmes is a small book of facts aimed at newer additions to the fandom. It gives brief summaries of the published books and the short stories within, and also has brief descriptions of the main characters. It also has lists of the more well-known adaptions for television, cinema and radio, but doesn’t (I don’t think) list the main written works that we live off these days, such as by Anthony Horowitz and Laurie R. King – it has a list of books similar to it itself, but no actual fiction. Though it does list websites! So in a way, it’s a bit hit and miss. It also states it’s based off ‘The Sherlock Holmes Encyclopaedia’ which seems to cover pretty much the same thing.
If you’ve already read the original stories in the canon then this book won’t really reveal anything new (as it’s not like there’s any new data to be had after all), but it’s still a nifty little collection of brief facts if you just wanted to quickly look up a certain crime or criminal if you can’t remember whether it was from ‘The Valley of Fear’ or ‘The Sign of Four’. This book is quite recent, listing mentions of the BBC’s modern version ‘Sherlock’, and though it only mentions it once, the American ‘Elementary’ (not sure why it never mentions it again – not a fan of the show, perhaps?)
Overall, I think it would have been worthwhile to have a few fans run their eyes over this before printing – as mentioned above, it seems to have odd gaps in what it covers and was so close to being fully comprehensive. I’m being pretty harsh on this book – I mean, it’s not hurting anyone by existing and it’s quite nice in what it’s done, but it just feels a bit lacking somehow. Overall, the book is presented quite nicely, and I’ll probably end up buying a print copy myself and I can’t see any reason to rate it anything lower than a four out of five stars… but… I think I’m just a bit sad that it so almost could have been excellent, yet they possibly didn’t give as much effort as they could have if they were truly passionate about the subject.
Especially as wikipedia online – and the fan-based sites that have their own wiki setup – cover all this so easily and also so much more. These books are in danger these days of being overlooked unless they truly excel.