If you’re a fellow Sherlock Holmes fan, then Caleb Carr’s “The Italian Secretary” will entertain. The central mystery itself, about murders in Queen Victoria’s residence in Holyroodhouse, is only so-so, but where the book will satisfy Holmesians is in the writing style (told throgh the Conan Doyle device of Dr. Watson’s writings) and the relationship between Holmes, Watson, and Holmes’s equally brilliant brother Mycroft. Carr manages to convey the relationship between the three men and the subtle components each brings to the relationship, with the Holmes brothers being extraordinary in their skills of detection, but with Watson acting almost as their emissary to the real world. It’s good, distracting fun.
Don’t forget, by the way, that the BBC’s excellent “Sherlock” is out next week on DVD. If you missed it on TV, you’re in for a treat.
Finally, to round off this Holmesian missive, I wonder did anyone see the funny and quite touching Sherlock Holmes sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look? Mitchell plays an elderly decrepit Holmes in a retirement home, with Webb’s Watson trying to maintain the facade that his failing detective powers are still impressive. The final scene actually brought a catch to my throat, and goes to show that, as Jack Dee, Robbie Coltrane and Robin Williams proved before, comedy actors can sometimes really excel at dramatic moments. Well done Mitchell and Webb.