|I recently acquired the 1986 edition on the right to add to the one on the left.|
One of the great things about maintaining a Sherlock Holmes library is that in any small town one happens to visit there is always something to do -- prowl the thrift shops and used book stores for Sherlockiana.
And so it was that on the day after Thanksgiving, in a Mennonite thrift shop in West Liberty, Ohio, I found a copy of The Sherlock Holmes Crossword Puzzle Book by Ruth Lake Tepper. I don't do crossword puzzles, and probably wouldn't be very good at them anyway. Besides, I was almost sure I already had a copy of the book in my library.
So, naturally, I decided to buy it. But I wasn't permitted to -- it was in a box of books offered for free!
The volume was published by Bell Publishing Co. in 1986, a reprint of the 1977 edition by Clarkson N. Potter Inc. The copy already on my shelves was also a reprint, by Gramercy Books, with no date given. Two different publishers and slightly different covers means I'm keeping both. The most recent edition is in particularly good shape, with plastic over the dust jacket. The other one lacks a dust jacket.
On closer inspection, I found The Sherlock Homes Crossword Puzzle Book to be an interesting book. The four-page introduction by Robert Leslie Hirtle, Jr., an attorney, discusses Sherlock Holmes as vigilante and lawbreaker. That's always an interesting topic, although its connection to the rest of the book eludes me.
The 21 crossword puzzles (not counting the famous Baker Street Irregulars puzzle of 1934, which is at the end) are each based on a Holmes short story. The story is summarized (minus the conclusion) before the puzzle is presented. The author asks a couple of questions at the end of the summary, designed to bring out the sleuth in the reader. Those questions are answered at the back of the book, where the summary of the story is completed and the crossword puzzle filled in.
Sprinkled among the puzzles are the original illustrations by Sidney Paget and six satisfactory little essays entitled "221B Baker Street," "Did You Know That?" "And Did You Know That?" "The Scotland Yarders," "Sherlock in Disguise," and "The Case of George Edalji."
This would be a wonderful book for any budding Sherlockian, and worth a look by a veterans as well -- especially if the price is so right.