While I’ve read and enjoyed all of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels and most of the short stories featuring Holmes, I have to admit I’m not a huge, avid fan. I’m not a Sherlockian or an expert on the canon, or anything like that. I love THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, but possibly because I remember so well sitting on my parents’ front porch reading it when I was in fifth grade. You had to be there.
That said, I’m fond of the characters – I think Dr. Watson is a great sidekick – and from time to time I’ll pick up a Holmes pastiche and read it. So I didn’t hesitate when I came across the collected edition of a Sherlock Holmes mini-series from Dynamite Comics, THE TRIAL OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. The script is by Leah Moore (the daughter of Alan Moore) and her husband John Reppion, and the art is by Aaron Campbell. The story finds Holmes in a very unusual position indeed: arrested and thrown in jail for the murder of a former Scotland Yard commissioner, the very murder that Holmes was trying to prevent. This leaves Watson and Inspector Lestrade to try to solve the case on their own, although it won’t come as any surprise to the reader that Holmes soon manages to escape from jail and take a hand in the investigation himself.
Since Holmes doesn’t actually appear much in the story, Watson and Lestrade have to carry the load, and the way Moore and Reppion portray them as tough, capable, and determined investigators is the best thing about this yarn. No, they’re not in Holmes’ class as detectives, but they’re far from bumbling comedy relief and Holmes wouldn’t be able to solve the case without their help. The mystery is pretty solidly constructed, and Moore and Reppion save a final twist for the very last page that I didn’t see coming. I was a little less fond of Campbell’s art – some of the pages were a little hard for me to follow – but he does a fine job of capturing the Victorian atmosphere.
This collection also includes the entire script for the first issue of the mini-series and a reprint of Conan Doyle’s story “The Adventures of the Devil’s Foot”. It’s very entertaining, and the whole thing has put me in the mood to read more Holmes stories. Maybe it’s time for me to consider a reread of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES after all these years. I wonder if I can find a copy of the same Scholastic Books edition I read back then . . .
Tex Willer in Galveston
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