|Dan Andriacco and Karen Murdock|
Two weeks ago in Chicago, I had the opportunity to buy a copy of Sherlock Alive, a compilation of Sherlockian excerpts from Vincent Starrett's "Books Alive" column in The Chicago Tribune, 1942-1967. I've been reading it with great delight ever since, usually just before I go to sleep.
This is a must-have book for anybody who loves books, Sherlock Holmes, and all the fabulous personalities of mid-century arts and letters who appear in its pages.
Starrett, an original Baker Street Irregular who lived much of his life in Chicago, is best known for his The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and the sonnet "221B." But he wrote many more ephemeral pieces about the Master as well.
If editor Karen Murdock had done nothing more than just preserve these Sherlockian tidbits between covers, that would have been a great service. But she didn't stop there. The footnotes are lavish and wonderful, far beyond what one would expect.
For example, at one point Starrett muses over the phrase "all the great detectives of fact and fiction." Who are the great detectives of fact? he wonders. Ms. Murdock provides an admirable list of 14, spanning a period of more than 150 years.
The end matter is amazing. In addition to Appendices A-L, there is a 38-page chronology of the life and times of Vincent Starrett (not only what he was up to, but what was going on in the world from before his birth to after his death in 1974 at age 87) and a 59-page "Personalia" section with a fat paragraph on everybody mentioned in the book.
For a combination of solid scholarship and fun reading, this volume is hard to It's available from the publisher, The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.