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The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library) Paperback – December 27, 1999
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Penzler Pick, February 2000: What is there about the greatest series of short stories in the history of the world that hasn't already been said? This is the second (of five) story collections by Doyle about the greatest detective in literature--and a splendid volume it is, containing such superb puzzles as "The Greek Interpreter," in which readers are introduced to Mycroft Holmes; "The Musgrave Ritual"; "Silver Blaze"; and the earth-shattering "The Final Adventure," recounting the struggle between Holmes and the evil Professor Moriarty in which the two titans were apparently killed as they went over the edge of the Reichenbach Falls.
But every mystery reader already knows this. I'm pointing out this marvelous book because it has been extensively annotated by a fine Sherlockian scholar, Les Klinger, who has brought to all serious students of the Holmesian canon a level of erudition seldom encountered. In addition to the expected illustrations from The Strand magazine and meticulous scrutiny of chronological evidence of various events, there are references to primary sources and a staggering helping of information from the thousands of works about Sherlock Holmes by others.
More than 30 years ago, another great Sherlockian scholar, William S. Baring-Gould, produced a ground-breaking volume that enjoyed more than 35 printings in its original two-volume format and probably sold just as many copies in a slightly less elaborate one-volume size. The Annotated Sherlock Holmes became the single most essential volume in the library of any true Sherlockian, of which the world has far more than you think.
Les Klinger has acknowledged Baring-Gould in every way imaginable, and it was an act of extraordinary courage to attempt to supercede that monumental work. But that is exactly what he appears to be doing. The first volume, his annotated edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was introduced by the same publisher last year. There are seven yet to come.
If you want to master just about everything there is to know about The Great Detective and The Good Doctor, to understand what Holmes meant when he referred to "a comet vintage" of wine, and to know what discrepancies there are between the English and American editions of the works, plus a thousand other things relating to Holmes, Watson, and the England of the Victorian era, you must have this volume, as well as all the others in the series as they become available over the next few years. --Otto Penzler