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Sherlock Holmes: The Final Problem And The Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle and adapted by Nicholas Briggs

01/02/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Sherlock Holmes: The Final Problem And The Empty House in the USA - or Buy Sherlock Holmes: The Final Problem And The Empty House in the UK

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pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-591-4). cast: Nicholas Briggs, Richard Earl, Alan Cox and John Banks.

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The end and the new beginning of Sherlock Holmes are neatly tied up in these stories, ‘The Final Problem’ and ‘The Empty House’. Nicholas Briggs, long-time fan and Sherlock Holmes-aphile has picked these two stories to highlight the death and life of a character that endures in the imagination of the listener.

Watson is setting the record straight about the encounter between Holmes and the infamous James Moriarty. As we travel to the wildly beautiful and forbidding Reichenbach Falls, it is all too obvious that we are approaching disaster. Whether it was so obvious to the original readers of the much loved Sherlock Holmes stories, we don’t know but they must have been weeping into their porridge by the end of ‘The Final Problem’.

It is widely acknowledged that Conan Doyle grew to hate his creation and was keen to make him meet his maker so Doyle could concentrate on his other life, writing fantasy stories. These were not so appreciated as our pipe-smoking hero so he brings him back in ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Empty House’.

In ‘The Empty House’, Watson still under the impression that Holmes is dead, is keen to investigate the ‘the murder of Ronald Adair in unusual and inexplicable circumstances’ and he ponders how the case would have appealed to the brain of Sherlock Holmes.

In the course of his investigations, Holmes reveals himself, explaining why his disappearance was necessary and what he did on his enforced vacation. It’s almost hilarious as he recounts his time ‘spent with the head Llama’ and his many achievements under false names.

This is my kind of Sherlock Holmes. There is time to suck on the pipe and have a quick fiddle as the characters are as impressive as old movie and TV versions and the stories completely authentic. This is no Guy Richie, slow-mo rehash but a proper thought out take on the original. It has gravitas and you can almost smell the pipe smoke and the fog of London. Both Nicholas Briggs as Holmes and Richard Earl as John Watson have the ‘proper’ diction for the job and there is nothing wrong with an actor that calls a room a ‘rum’. Every word can be savoured and the enunciation is indeed like a fine dinner.

If you enjoyed the recent TV version then you really should get this. It has been adapted so that as much as possible is the work of Conan Doyle. This means that all of Conan Doyle’s words and meaning can be incorporated. It has such power and life that it creates suspense even though we know the outcome. This is gripping stuff and great fun, too.

Sue Davies

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