Book Review: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett (Three Stars)

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Book Review: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett

(Three Stars)

“My turn that way [i.e., his ability to observe and make deductions] is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.”

There’s nothing like a good Sherlock Holmes tale; this is nothing like one. First published in 1933, shortly after the death of Sir Arthur, this tome complies trivia about Holmes and Watson gleaned from the writings with contemporary stage, film, and parody representations of the duo.

“From first to last—as student, physician, writer, spiritualist, and prophet of war—[Doyle] was always the private detective, the seeker after hidden truths, the fathomer of obscure mysteries, the hound of justice upon the trail of injustice and official apathy.”

Most contemporary items in 1933 are hopelessly obscure in 2020. For example, reviewing the best representations of Holmes on stage and film, there’s no mention of Basil Rathbone, who to many is the representation. (Starrett suggests its William Gillette.)

Only die-hard Holmes fans need bother.

“And since there is nothing quite so real as the unreal, perhaps these ghosts walk there with more persuasive tread than any of those other ghosts we call the living.”