Book, Video & App Incarnations of Sherlock Holmes

It’s your friendly KF on KND Editor April Hamilton here, with a survey of all the many versions of, and takes on, Sherlock Holmes you can find today.

Over the past few years, there’s been a huge resurgence in Sherlock Holmes’ popularity. Whether it’s because the Victorian England setting is newly hip thanks to steampunk, or it’s simply the next major literary classic to be embraced by writers and filmmakers (see Wicked / Wizard of Oz, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies / Pride & Prejudice, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter / Dracula, The Looking Glass Wars / Alice in Wonderland, et al – note that all the original works are in the public domain and FREE), Holmes is suddenly back in style and available in a version to suit virtually any taste.


Fans of Literary Classics, Traditionalists

The Complete Sherlock Holmes – The Heirloom Collection (5/5 stars, currently priced at $6.99)

From Amazon:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales are rightly ranked among the seminal works of mystery and detective fiction.

The splendid illustrations in this collection more than befit that classic status.

Included are all four full-length Holmes novels and more than forty short masterpieces—from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes and more.

At the center of each stands the iconic figure of Holmes—brilliant, eccentric, and capable of amazing feats of deductive reasoning. By his side is Dr. John Watson, his steadfast assistant and our trusty narrator.

This set is a must-have for every discriminating bibliophile and Sherlock Holmes fan.


Fans of Graphic Novels & Interactive Books

Intro to Sherlock Holmes – Scandal in Bohemia interactive book app (5/5 stars, ages 9 and up, currently priced at $1.99)

From Amazon:

Nation9 has brought this old-time classic to digital life as an interactive book app. Nation9’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original work will captivate young readers with custom art, animated scenes, rich music, and optional narration. Introduce your child to the world of Holmes and enjoy this classic story time and time again. Recommended age range: 9 to 12.

When a German nobleman’s engagement to a Scandinavian princess is threatened by the blackmail of a former love interest, he calls upon the only man who could handle such a delicate matter – Sherlock Holmes. With his “calculating mind and cold heart” Holmes carries out a brilliant covert operation to gather all the information needed to save the day and earn his opulent reward. But will the legendary Holmes be outwitted by the former opera diva, Irene Adler?

– Kid-friendly adaptation in length and content. Recommended age range: 9-12
– Choose from two reading options: Read it to me and Read it myself
– Select animated scenes to illustrate turning points in story
– Read abbreviated version of this old-time classic
– Listen to wonderful narration and music

Sherlock Holmes: Adventure of the Opera Ghost – Graphic Novel (no reviews yet, intended for mature readers, currently priced at $2.99)

From Amazon:

A meeting that just had to happen…Sherlock Holmes meets the Phantom of the Opera! Holmes and Watson are called in regarding the terror occurring the Opera House and claim it to be a ghost.

Although Holmes dismisses it as needing a spiritualist rather than a consulting detective, he agrees to look into it. Unknown to him, Eric, the tortured ghost of the Opera House will prove to more than a ghost and more than an able opponent in a battle of wits.

Issue 1 of 2
Holmes and Watson listen to the tale of the mysterious ghost and decide to look into it. Watson finds himself face to face with the apparition and suddenly finds that even a ghost can kill. Can Holmes save Watson in time?

Issue 2 of 2
In the chase of the catacombs beneath the Opera House, surprisingly, it is not Holmes that has the means to defeat the Phantom but rather Dr. Watson and with an equally surprising weapon.


Fans of Revisionist History, Steampunk or Action Films

Sherlock Holmes (PG-13, 4/5 stars, currently priced at $1.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy)

From IMDB:

After finally catching serial killer and occult “sorcerer” Lord Blackwood, legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson can close yet another successful case.

But when Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave and resumes his killing spree, Holmes must take up the hunt once again.

Contending with his partner’s new fiancée and the dimwitted head of Scotland Yard, the dauntless detective must unravel the clues that will lead him into a twisted web of murder, deceit, and black magic – and the deadly embrace of temptress Irene Adler.

– Written by The Massie Twins

Young Sherlock Holmes (PG-13, 4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent in SD / $3.99 in HD, $9.99 to own in SD / $13.99 in HD, currently FREE for Amazon Prime members to view)

From IMDB:

Paired with the owlish, reticent young Watson, [teen-aged] Sherlock Holmes embarks on the solution of a mystery that involves a hallucinatory and lethal drug, and a religious cult celebrating ancient Egyptian rites of mummification.

They all enter and view, from a hiding place, an Ancient-Egyptian-themed cult, known as the Rame-Tep (also known as Rametep and Ramatep), performing a ceremony in which a young girl is hypnotized, wrapped in linen and killed with the pouring of boiling wax atop her body. The trio gets spotted, and are each hit by a thorn and experience their own horrific hallucinations in a graveyard…

– Written by Anthony Pereyra


Fan Fiction and Meta Fiction Fans

Sherlock (TV-14, 5/5 stars, currently priced to own at $4.99 per episode in SD / $6.99 in HD, $8.99 – $12.99 per season in SD / $9.99 – $19.99 per season in HD)

In this contemporary BBC TV series, Holmes is a brilliant, prickly, misanthropic consultant to modern-day Scotland Yard and Watson is an Afghanistan war vet who’s both a medical doctor and a bit of a badass with a gun (despite being played by Martin Freeman, who’s more widely known for his role as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).

The show simply never acknowledges the existence of a Victorian Holmes or Watson, yet incorporates numerous characters, plot details and character details from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original creation. Moriarty is still here is Holmes’ arch-nemesis, Irene Adler is still here as the one woman Holmes ever loved, and Holmes’ long-suffering and level-headed landlady Mrs. Hudson is here, too.

There are hints at Holmes’ former drug addiction as well and this may be explored more fully in later episodes.


Elementary (TV-14, 5/5 stars, closed-captions enabled, currently priced at $1.99 per episode to buy in SD / $2.99 in HD, or $29.99 to buy seasons 1-3, $34.99 for a season pass for the current, 4th season in SD / $39.99 in HD)

This American CBS production has some elements in common with the BBC’s Sherlock, but it goes a bit further still in its reimagining of the iconic detective.

Holmes is played by British actor Jonny Lee Miller (Aeon Flux, Hackers), and Watson in this version is female and portrayed by Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill 2).

In Elementary, Holmes’ status as a recovering addict is a plotting centerpiece because Watson, a former surgeon, is his “sober companion”. She’s been paid by Holmes’ father to live with him (with her own, separate bedroom), keep him sober and help him on the road to full recovery. It’s a bit of a stretch, but somehow the show makes it work.

As for Miller’s Holmes, he’s every bit the brilliant misanthrope of the BBC’s Sherlock, but he’s more like the character of Gregory House: not only an obsessive genius who’s more interested in puzzles than people, but also more quirky than prickly, and capable of exposing an inner emotional vulnerability on rare occasions.

Miller’s Holmes is also a crime consultant, but this show is set in New York so he consults for the NYPD’s Homicide division.

Elementary also sets up criminal mastermind Moriarty as Holmes’ intellectual equal in crime and opposite in the never-ending battle in good versus evil, and the show also includes the character of Irene Adler, whose murder is a driving force behind Holmes’ mission of revenge against Moriarty.


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