The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes is an audio boxset from Big Finish Productions. It contains four stories that are really connected. The whole saga was written by Jonathan Barnes and directed by Ken Bentley. I would usually take each installment individually, however since it is all one story anyway, I may just save myself a little bit of time.
First, I will mention some of the cast members. Nicholas Briggs returns as the Big Finish version of Sherlock Holmes, once again paired with Richard Earl as Dr. John Watson. Nicholas Chambers, Gemma Whalen, Jemma Churchill, and John Banks are included in the cast guest. There are a number of other actors involved, but one can read up on them in another blog or more official review.
So this collection delves into the years that Holmes and Watson were separated after it was thought Holmes fell to his death locked in battle with Professor Moriarty over Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Holmes turns up three years later after that dramatic encounter, but of course he had to be doing something worthwhile during those years. He is still Sherlock Holmes after all.
The first story is entitled Poppyland where the audience learns of Watson’s marriage and Holmes is exploring the land of Tibet. Holmes has learned that a mysterious innkeeper has deduced his identity just in time for a murder to occur. Watson is having to defend his wife from another murder attempt with the help of Inspector Lestrade.
At the Garden of Shambhala is the second story where the machinations of some strange organization known only as the Society are coming to light. Watson is having to convince members of the Society that Holmes is dead, but we all know otherwise.
Sherlock Holmes faces some revelations of some secrets with roots back to his childhood in The Man in the Moonlight with the whole business coming to a fairly impressive conclusion in The Tragedy of Pargetter Square.
Nicholas Briggs does not give a bad performance as Holmes, but I wish I could get into it more. It’s really Richard Earl as Watson that is the more memorable, which does still seem appropriate since he is the narrator. Also, the goals of this Society seems a little murky even after a series of four stories. There are several troubling and compelling moments though that does makes this still a worthwhile listen. Obviously, when I say troubling, I mean it in a good way, at least in the context of a fictional thriller.
Briggs may not be my favorite actor to play Holmes, but he does have some pretty engaging scenes, especially during the times of victory. Also, mysterious, seemingly ubiquitous organizations seem to be a dime a dozen with Sherlock Holmes stories. At least, he wasn’t chasing ghosts as many other pastiche writers are prone to have him do.
I enjoyed this set for the most part in spite of the cracks. I have seen better interpretations of Holmes, but Briggs does just well enough to keep me interested. Some of my misgivings about this series may have more to do with my personal preferences when it comes to continuing Holmes’ exploits.