Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Reference Books, Give Me Reference Books!

If one claims to have a library, not a collection, one needs a lot of reference books – even in this search-engine age. So I was delighted recently when a friend gifted me with a copy of Good Old Index: The Sherlock Holmes Handbook by Thomas W. Ross, published in 1997.

I already own the similarly named Good Old Index and its revision, The New Good Old Index, by William D. Goodrich. It's been an invaluable resource to me for many years. Comparisons between the Ross and Goodrich books are inevitable – and perhaps helpful. At this point I can only offer first impressions, having used my new acquisition very little so far for actual research.

The Ross book is slight compared to The New Good Old Index – only 171 pages compared to the older and better-known book’s 602 pages. One reason is that Ross offers some prose under each entry, albeit in telegraphic style. Goodrich just has the entry, and the page number in the Doubleday Complete where it can be found. Those page numbers are very helpful! But each gets its own line, which takes up a lot of space.  

Under “Newspapers,” for example, Goodrich lists every newspaper mentioned in the Canon, with the corresponding page number. Ross only mentions a few journals by name, he but describes how Holmes uses newspapers in various specific stories and how they play into the plot in others.

To find out something about Holmes’s thoughts on religion in Goodrich, one must to go to the massive (128-page) entry on “Sherlock Holmes” to find just one sub-entry leading to the famous passage in “The Naval Treaty.” Ross does much better with references to five stories, although he misses some opportunities.  

Each of these book has its strengths, so that together they make good companion volumes. I will keep them next to each other on the bookshelves near the computer.

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