A couple days ago, I received four of Alistair Duncan's books, published through MX. I'm working my way through the first one, called Eliminate the Impossible. (Amazon is being a pain today, so there won't be any links in this entry.) Anyway, I hadn't known that these books were non-fiction. Honestly, I don't have much of an interest in non-fiction, most likely because of the differences in the set up between fiction and non-fiction. However, he was kind enough to read and review my first book and said that he would read and review my second, so the least I can do in return is read/review his.
While I'm not done with Eliminate the Impossible, I'm a good chunk through it. It basically gives us a synopsis of the 56 short stories and 4 novels that Arthur Conan Doyle gave us, and then a probable year the story takes place, and some of the inconsistencies shown in the writing. For instance, A Scandal in Bohemia, the short story where we meet Irene Adler. The story itself says that it happens in late March, 1888. Pretty clear cut, right? However, Duncan's book pins the story in 1889, because another story makes a reference to this one, or perhaps this one makes a reference to another, but whichever one it is, that reference works against Watson being accurate in the time frame of March of '88. (For the sake of Jack of All Trades, I'm going with what was written in Scandal, by the way.)
The second part of Duncan's book features different actors who have portrayed Holmes on stage/film. I've skimmed this part of the book. The most familiar names I know that are attached to Holmes are Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Matthew Frewer, Nicholas Rowe, Michael Caine, Robert Downey Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch. This book was written before the RDJ movies and before the BBC's Sherlock, however. Now, Basil Rathbone, I don't think I've actually sat down and watched his portrayal of Holmes. Jeremy Brett, I've seen a couple of episodes because I bought them recently on DVD. Nicholas Rowe played Holmes in Young Sherlock Holmes, my first movie experience of Sherlock Holmes. Michael Caine played a bumbling, clueless "Holmes" in the comedic Without a Clue, where Watson is the true genius. And Matthew Frewer played Holmes in several movies, including one I've taken to liking called The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire. Not to be confused with Dan Turnbloom's book of the same name, available from MX. The former has nothing to do with Jack the Ripper, the latter is entirely about Jack the Ripper and Holmes's investigation into the identity of said Ripper.
Unfortunately for Nicholas Rowe and Michael Caine, neither are mentioned in Duncan's book. Perhaps an oversight, perhaps the movies were too obscure, or perhaps spacing ion the book demanded things be left out. Because I will say that's a disadvantage of this book. It's very short, considering all the information it attempts to cover. Though I do admit, if he went into everything, the book would probably be about a thousand pages and cost around eighty dollars.
One thing this book has inspired within me is my own desire to go through the Canon with a fine-toothed comb and see about my own attempt at a proper timeline.
I like the information Duncan's book provides, and honestly, despite that I don't gravitate towards non-fiction, I look forward to what his other books hold.