It’s the word “unabridged” that clinches it. This is Sherlock Holmes exactly as Conan Doyle intended it: the tales delivered every single word in all their glory - and delivered by a master, in this case the incomparable Derek Jacobi.
Arguably this isn’t the finest Holmes collection, but it is still full of cracking tales beautifully told, perhaps the best among them Silver Blaze, that classic tale of horse-racing skulduggery.
A horse trainer is found dead. A prize horse - and favourite in a crucial race - is missing. Only Holmes can put the pieces together, realise the significance of the dog that didn’t bark in the night and prove that Conan Doyle’s most unlikely murderer was really no murderer at all.
Just as sinister and just as impressive is The Musgrave Ritual, a terrific tale of lost treasure and a lost butler, a case which stretches Holmes to the limit as he finds himself always one step behind the culprit on a path which will lead him to the most gruesome of discoveries.
Equally irresistible is The Resident Patient where a baffled young medic is sucked into a world of crime, ignorant of the true identity of the patient who is effectively executed under his care.
And then, all too soon, Holmes meets his match. Or does he? The Final Problem ultimately threw up more problems for Conan Doyle than it ever did for Sherlock Holmes, the tale of great detective’s fateful meeting with the master criminal Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.
How did Conan Doyle ever think for a moment he’d be allowed to bump off the nation’s favourite detective? It wasn’t long before Sir Arthur had to magically pull his detective out of his hat again.
It’s all terrific stuff, tales that you can read and re-read, tales that you can listen to and then listen to again - and with each retelling, all you can do admire, awestuck, the brilliance of our greatest ever story teller.
OK, I am completely biased, hooked on Holmes through and through. But no one could deny the tales are magnificent - and here, Sir Derek, to his eternal credit, does them justice.