“The Reification of Hans Gerber” is a Sherlock Holmes audio drama released in 2011 from Big Finish Productions. This episode is written by George Mann, and Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl star as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, respectively. John Dorney, Dan Starkey, and Terry Malloy are included in the guest cast.
First of all, the title is perhaps a little too ambiguous. My vocabulary is pretty good, and I had to look up the definition of reification, which means to basically to make a concept or idea into a concrete thing. I don’t know if many people could recall that meaning easily, so the title could have been better thought out.
In spite of that, I really enjoyed this episode. I am getting used to Briggs’ portrayal of most famous literary detective, which isn’t bad. I find the performance of Richard Earl as Dr. Watson as pretty extraordinary. I don’t know which makes a perfect Victorian sounding voice, but Earl pitches his just right. He gets amazingly frantic during the action sequences he relates. He may be becoming one of my favorite versions of Watson.
The other element I enjoyed about this story is that for once, Mann doesn’t have the two adventurers investigate another family curse or supernatural legend. There are no appearances by other literary or historical figures of that era. This really is something I could imagine that Arthur Conan Doyle would have written.
The story centers on a suspicious death that leads to a missing will. The offspring of a banished relative has laid claim to the estate, and Holmes is asked to look into the matter. Then a murder occurs, and the deductions are pronounced. There are some pretty good twists here even if they are not entirely unpredictable.
This is the kind of Holmes story I prefer if other writers want to contribute to the legend. Of course, no one compares to the master, Conan Doyle, but Mann’s offering here does come closer than a lot of recent pastiches I have read or heard recently. He does manage to emulate the prose fairly effectively while laying out some much needed creativity.
Big Finish consistently hires solid if not extraordinary performers who do make some of the more ill-considered storylines at least reasonably enjoyable. This episode had great performances which I can almost always count on, and a story that would likely make the creator of the most recognizable pair of Victorian crime in literature proud. Well done, George Mann and Big Finish!