“The Tangled Skein” is a Sherlock Holmes audio drama from Big Finish Productions. It was initially written as a novel by David Stuart Davies and was adapted to an audio script by Richard Dinnick. Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl return to the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively.
The script and the sound effects work well enough. Briggs’ interpretation of Holmes isn’t really a favorite performance of mine, but I am getting used to it. Earl does really get into the more exciting scenes as he narrates the story. The actors are well chosen.
Here’s the problem: Holmes meets Dracula…again. This is another pastiche work in which someone can’t keep other works of the period out of the realm of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We have other works who have indulged in this pairing out there. A lot of these pastiche writers keep wanting to push the supernatural through the doors of 221B Baker Street, and I just find that it gets old.
I was especially annoyed when Briggs or one of the other cast members said something about the Bram Stoker’s creation fits so well into the Conan Doyle canon during the cast interviews on the CD Extras.. I don’t know which canon they were reading, but the supernatural was only addressed in about three stories or so in Doyle’s stories. None of them actually depicted Holmes meeting a ghost or vampire.
I get it though. Since Holmes was such a stubborn rationalist, the temptation to create situations where his grounding in reality is challenged is hard to resist. I just get rather weary of some of these writers thinking that they are churning out something unique by having yet another story where someone brings some ghost story or curse to be investigated by Holmes. This story is kind of a sequel to “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, which is actually one of my favorites in the original canon. I didn’t entirely mind revisiting the Grimpen Mire or Devonshire, but I have to say that has been done before by other pastiche writers.
Giles Watling assumes the role of Bram Stoker’s Godfather of Vampires and performs well. I do have to admit being rather captivated when Holmes and Dracula exchange their first menacing introductions and threats in spite of my exasperation.
I do hope Big Finish will resist the urge to have Holmes have too many cases where he meets other Victorian fictional characters or supernatural beings.
In spite of the ranting here, this particular release is not without its good points. I just think the whole business with Holmes, vampires, and curses has just been overdone with the pastiche works, and it just isn’t as faithful to Doyle’s original concept for this world as much as these authors claim.