The Master of Blackstone Grange is a Sherlock Holmes audio play released by Big Finish Productions. This release also has a bonus adventure entitled The Adventure of the Fleet Street Transparency, both scripted by Jonathan Barnes. Ken Bentley is the director this particular audio release. Nicholas Briggs and Richard Earl return to the imagined lodgings of Bake Street as Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, respectively.
The first story starts off with Watson bringing a peculiar matter of his barber’s wife disappearing inexplicably. Holmes is quite taken aback when his nemesis, Sebastian Moran, is released from prison. Colonel Sebastian Moran was the chief lieutenant of the criminal enterprise headed by Professor James Moriarty. Clues and circumstances take Holmes and Watson to Blackstone Grange where they encounter a mysterious landowner named “Honest” Jim Sheedy, whose fortune has hazy origins. Also, Dr. Watson meets an intriguing woman.
This is a three hour adventure here. It’s actually pretty good, but I am it does feel a little long. Richard Earl still does a remarkable job as narrator and performer. Briggs also delivers an interesting take on Holmes. There seems to be some exploration of the period where Holmes and Watson middle-aged. Watson has moved back to Baker Street after his wife’s passing.
Harry Peacock, Lucy Briggs-Owens, and Tim Bentinck are part of the guest cast. John Banks portrays Colonel Moran and does a great job. The story does drag at times, but it still has plenty of interesting moments. Earl has the heaviest load here since he also narrates as Dr. Watson. There are some threads that lead back to Texas.
I also was interested that this takes place around Christmas of 1899, so there are questions concerning the changes swirling around Holmes and Watson at the dawn of what be a new century to them.
The Adventure of the Fleet Street Transparency has a longer title but is a much shorter installment. Barnes elected to have the Baker Street face something quite a bit more supernatural. Holmes and Watson will wander into the realm of H.G. Wells, but that’s all I will say about that.
It’s a lighter adventure than the first one. This type of direction for Sherlock Holmes is not my favorite, however I still found some enjoyment here. I guess I am getting more used to Nicholas Briggs’ take on Holmes, however I think Earl’s voice as Watson is quite compelling.
Blake Ritson, Anjella MacKintosh, and Leighton Pugh make up the guest cast and are well selected, however that’s no surprise. There seems to be no shortage of talent found by the Big Finish folks.
Although I am not sure that Blackstone Grange needed three hours to tell the story, this release was still quite good for the most part. There are some interesting moments of friction in the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Watson doesn’t quite come off as the sycophant as he is sometimes presented in other tales. I never really disliked Briggs’ interpretation of Holmes, but I do think I can developing a deeper appreciation for it, I think other previous depictions will still be a preference, but Briggs’ love for the character is something I share and appreciate.
Anyway, whatever misgivings I have expressed are really pretty minor, and I don’t have any hesitation in recommending giving this one a try.