Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Blog Tour: The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes by Robert J. Harris [Guest Post]

Author Robert J. Harris is pretty new to me, I finished reading Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club last week, and was lucky enough to dive into The Vanishing Dragon straight away. As soon as I began reading I was hooked, the characters have a way of making their humour stand out, but also leave a lasting impression with you.
As part of the blog tour for Robert J. Harris's new book, The Vanishing Dragon, I have a guest post about the many faces of Sherlock Holmes

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My first memory of Sherlock Holmes is an episode of the BBC TV series of the 1960s which starred Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes and later Peter Cushing. This episode was an adaptation of the Conan Doyle story The Six Napoleons, one of the best. This encouraged me later to borrow the complete Holmes stories from my local library.

Holmes was first brought to life in the theatre in 1899 in William Gillette’s stage play The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Later it was Basil Rathbone (my favourite Sherlock Holmes) - with Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson - who established Holmes in the cinema with a series of excellent films. This began with The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) followed by an adaptation of Gillette’s play.

These were such a success that the producers decided to continue the series, but with a bold twist. They brought Holmes forward in time to the 1940s.

There were two reasons for this. Firstly it saved the expense of recreating the Victorian world. But even more importantly, now that World War II was raging, it made for an important piece of propaganda to have Holmes outwitting Nazi spies in contemporary Britain. All fourteen of the Rathbone films are good, but my favourite is The Scarlet Claw, in which Holmes encounters a murderous phantom on Canada.

(Incidentally, this shows that recreating Holmes in the modern day, as has happened recently on TV, is not such an original idea after all.)

Following on from the films, Rathbone and Bruce recreated their roles in a long running radio series entitled The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which took Holmes back to Victorian times but in a series of ingenious new mysteries created by Anthony Boucher and Dennis Green. My favourite of these has the clever title The Case of the Uneasy Easy Chair.

Of later Holmes films my favourite is Murder By Decree in which Christopher Plummer plays Holmes in pursuit of Jack the Ripper with James Mason as Watson. It’s pretty scary. I also enjoyed Without A Clue, in which Dr Watson is the real detective who is forced to hire an actor to play the part of Sherlock Holmes, a fictional character he only invented for his published stories.

On television the ITV series starring Jeremy Brett set the standard both in acting and production. It’s unlikely to be bettered.

As well as being set in his original Victorian age or brought up to date in the present day, Holmes has also been catapulted into the future in the cartoon series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, created by Sandy Ross of Scottish Television in 1999. In this show Holmes is brought back to life in a future London where, assisted by a robot Watson, he solves a number of crimes inspired by the original stories.

There are two non-Doyle Holmes novels I have really enjoyed: Nicholas Meyer’s very clever The Seven Percent Solution, and Cay van Ash’s Ten Years Beyond Baker Street, which pits Holmes against the fiendish Dr Fu Manchu.

I have no doubt Holmes will live on and on in all sorts of forms and I am very happy to be able to contribute to the legend with my own mysteries.

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Title: The Vanishing Dragon
Author: Robert J. Harris
Series: Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries #2
Publisher: Kelpies
Publication Date: 22nd March 2018

Tell Me About It
One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all -- Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. Artie and his friend Ham are hired to investigate a series of suspicious accidents that have befallen world-famous magician, the Great Wizard of the North. It seems someone is determined to sabotage his spectacular new illusion. When the huge mechanical dragon created for the show vanishes, the theft appears to be completely impossible. Artie must reveal the trick and unmask the villain or face the deadly consequences. The cards have been dealt, the spell has been cast, and the game is afoot once more!
Robert J. Harris, author of The World's Gone Loki series and Will Shakespeare and the Pirate's Fire, brings the young Conan Doyle to life in the second book of this ingenious new detective series.

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