Yo-ho-ho! Christmas has come early for me this year; indeed, after months of anticipation (mine at least!), the latest Holmes adventure is now available, The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes had many secrets. This is the greatest of them.
Our knowledge of the life and career of Mr Sherlock Holmes is
necessarily partial and inexact. Riddled with lacunae and ambiguities,
its parameters are defined chiefly by what his friend and colleague, Dr
John Watson, saw fit to record.
One era in particular – those enigmatic
years in which, believed dead at the Reichenbach Falls, the Great
Detective roved the world incognito – has been shrouded in obscurity and
doubt, the particulars of that time too terrible and too strange to be
set down in full.
At least, that is, until now…
Part One: Poppyland
It is October, 1921. Dr John Watson, now almost seventy, has accustomed
himself to a life of retirement. He is surprised, then, to encounter
his old friend, Mr Sherlock Holmes, rising out of the early evening mist
like a wraith. There are things they have to discuss, he says, matters
from the distant past. It is important, he says, that Watson hears at
last a full account of what happened to Holmes during his years away
from England when, believed by the world to be dead following his battle
with Professor Moriarty, he travelled incognito overseas…
Part Two: At the Gates of Shambhala
1892. At the heart of Tibet, a world away from London, where a grieving
Dr Watson is battling demons of his own, stands an ancient monastery,
abandoned for generations but now the source of rumours of the most
peculiar and terrible kind. For strangers have lately invaded this place
and pressed it into service for their dark schemes. Those who dwell
nearby have come to live in fear and sorrow. What good fortune, then,
that a certain noted Norwegian explorer should happen to have found
himself in the vicinity…
Part Three: The Man in the Moonlight
Mr Sherlock Holmes is the kind of man whom it is practically impossible
to imagine ever having been a child, so fixed and set is his nature.
Yet even he was once an infant, his childhood as fraught with peril as
his adult life. That time, long past, still haunts him – one element
most of all, the figure of a stranger, standing without and gazing
upwards, his thin, pale face haloed by moonlight.
Part Four: The Tragedy of Pargetter Square
Here is where it ends: with a murderer in Pargetter Square, with the
detective and a tyrant come face to face in Baker Street, with desperate
ambition and wickedness incarnate, with an assassin’s bullet and with
old friends working, unknowingly, as one.
Yet what is an ending if not a beginning by a different name?
Sherlock Holmes - Sherrinford Holme Richard Earl
John Banks Inspector Lestrade - Colonel Sebastian Moran Tim Bentinck Mycroft Holmes
Gemma Whelan Mary Watson Jemma Churchill Helena Eidelmann
Terrence Hardiman Dr Esau Thorne Nicholas Chambers The Reverend Samuel Griffiths
Joannah Tincey Miss Jessica Hendrick Dai Tabuchi Dorje
David Killick Lord Colney, The Earl of Pettigree
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Directed by Ken Bentley
December 21st update: an extract from today's SFcrowsnest review:
" John Banks is multi-tasking, both as the superb Lestrade and also the
villainous and no doubt moustache twirling Sebastian Moran. They sound
completely different and I bow to his talent."
" This is rapidly turning into appointment audio with this release
eagerly awaited by fans and hopefully new listeners. If you haven’t
jumped yet then you really should."
December 18th update: an extract from today's Sci-Fi Bulletin review:
" Director Ken Bentley has assembled a very strong cast alongside
Briggs and Earl – who both excel in this, displaying passionate sides to
their characters that shake the speakers. John Banks as Lestrade and
Tim Bentinck’s Mycroft are great foils for Earl, while Gemma Whelan
gives us a very feisty Mary Watson; Jemma Churchill, Terrence Hardiman,
Nicholas Chambers, Joannah Tincey, Dai Tabuchi and David Killick all
play to the melodramatic nature of the story without ever letting it go
over the top (I’m deliberately not talking further about their
characters so as not to spoil the many twists!).
There’s a cinematic
scope to the story, and Jamie Robertson’s sound design ensures that even
with the quick cutting that the script requires, we’re never unsure
where we are (unless that’s the point!).
have to listen to this to understand how and why it qualifies as Sci-Fi
Bulletin territory – but I can’t wait for the sequel which promises to
be more terrifying than a certain spectral hound… "
Verdict: Another triumph for Briggs, Earl and the team. 10/10