The Sherlock Holmes Report Volume 1: The Siam Question
By Timothy Francis Sheil
First published by Camden House 1999
Reviewed by Charles Prepolec
To begin, I must comment on the physical nature of the book itself. This is a rare and fine example of quality book design. Clearly a good deal of thought and attention was given to the overall form of this publication. A rather muted dark blue dustjacket covers a full leatherette binding with a gilt stamped floral design on the front panel. A very nice touch when compared to the usual publishers’ output; which generally exhibits the aesthetic creativity of a, less than well planned, cardboard box! More importantly the book is bound in such a manner that it can be laid flat without causing the binding to crack, a necessary feature as the book is over 600 pages in length and weighs in at about 4 1/2 pounds. I only mention all of this as it is so rare these days to see such thoughtfulness applied by the publishing trade. I am genuinely impressed with this Camden House publication, which incidentally was formed by the author.
The story itself is yet another pastiche that explores the doings of Sherlock Holmes during that intriguing period known as the Great Hiatus. Clearly the remarks made by Holmes to Watson, explaining his activities after his supposed death, offer a great temptation to the writer who wishes to legitimately place Holmes on foreign soil.
"I travelled for two years in Tibet, therefore, and amused myself by visiting Lhasa and spending some days with the head Lama. You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend. I then passed through Persia, looked in at Mecca, and paid a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum, the results of which I have communicated to the Foreign Office."
- The Empty House
That description is essentially the basis for the current volume and the forthcoming second volume as well, which is to be published as The Holmes Report Vol. 2 - The Egypt Question. A second quotation is also a contributor to the contents of the present volume. It is made by Mycroft Holmes:
"In the present state of Siam it is most awkward that I should be away from the office."
- The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
Note: Sadly, as of 2016 a second volume has never been published.