When last we met, dear readers, I wrote about “Dear Starrett—”/“Dear Briggs—” as a sort of time machine that allowed us to look at The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in the making. There’s another kind of book that can be a time machine.
I’m thinking of those volumes that we encountered as youths and reread as adults, not just in any edition but in the very edition that introduced us to the works. I’ve acquired, for example, the editions of The Boys’ Sherlock Holmes, Profile by Gaslight, and The Private Life that I originally borrowed from the public library as a preteen.
And last month, at the excellent Holmes in the Heartland conference in St. Louis, John Alexander of Books on the Square in Virden, Ill., kindly traded me one of my Sebastian McCabe – Jeff Cody mysteries for the edition of The Poisoned Belt that I first read in a library copy. (In fact, this one was also an ex-lib). It’s the 1964 McMillan version, with an introduction by John Dickson Carr.
Most of my casual reading is on my tablet but reading the second Professor Challenger in this familiar form, so wonderfully illustrated by William Péne Dubois, was a delightful trip back in time. And, by the way, it's still a roaring good story!