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Review: The Great Detective by Zach Dundas April 3, 2015

Posted by sjroby in Book reviews.
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Another Netgalley free read in exchange for a review.

Whether you’re an old school Holmesian devoted to the canon or a Cumberbatch fan writing Sherlock fanfic, chances are you’ll find a lot to enjoy here. Zach Dundas was a Sherlock Holmes fan when he was young, and now that Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation is probably higher in profile now than he has been in decades, Dundas visits a variety of places and people to explore the life of Arthur Conan Doyle and that of Sherlock Holmes.

In a typical chapter, Dundas recounts a visit to a place or a meeting with a person linked in some way to Holmes. It may be a visit to 21st century Baker Street or Dartmoor, a meeting with a scholar or fan group, but it springboards to the topic of the chapter. You’ll learn about Conan Doyle himself, the publication of the Holmes stories, the multimedia world that grew from Holmes’s popularity, the erudite literary scholarship of some devotees and the freewheeling fanfic world of others.

Dundas is a knowledgeable devotee of the canon, and while he may not be too personally interested in some corners of the literary universe he’s exploring, he’s not a hidebound traditionalist who’d rather ignore all that stuff, either, From my perspective as a very casual fan, it seems to me that he’s presenting the whole picture to the extent that a single book for a mainstream audience can. As he points out, by now the phenomenon is simply too big to grasp — the pastiches, the fanfic, the movies and TV and radio episodes, the spinoffs, the other works of Conan Doyle, the biographies of Conan Doyle, and on and on. Ideally, though, this book may lead a few TV fans back to the original stories, and open some traditionalist/purists’ minds to the possibilities of the larger world of fandom out there.



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