If there’s one thing we need at Christmas (even accepting it’s a good few weeks gone) it’s a seasonal tale set in Victorian London and featuring Sherlock Holmes (Nick Briggs) and Dr Watson (Richard Earl). The Jonathan Barnes story The Adventure of the Fleet Street Conspiracy provides just that. The story is available on download only, and also comes as part of a larger release The Master of Blackstone Grange, due in March.
Rather than dwelling on complex mysteries and intellectual wizardry, this story gives us a more playful Holmes, keen to enjoy the season of goodwill and spend time with those whose company he enjoys. Yes, there is a mystery of sorts concerning journalist Hubert Rangeley (Leighton Pugh) and his younger wife Lydia (Anjella Mackintosh) but really it’s about being in London with a touch of snow, a scattering of unsavoury characters and the enigmatic Dr Kemp (Balek Riston reprising a part from another Big Finish release of 2017, and that’s probably too much of a spoiler).
As the action moves around the street of London, Holmes gets to explore the inner workings of Fleet Street, set Watson some unusual tasks and eventually use some of his more particular skills to help someone who may well return in a future story. Beyond that the listener can sit back and enjoy a Victorian Christmas in London, replete with the sounds of the period (courtesy of Joe Meiners) and Jamie Robertson’s music (reminiscent of something he used in another Christmas release several years ago, and making a welcome return).
Nick Briggs and Richard Earl are very comfortable in the skins of Holmes and Watson and even if Mrs Hudson is away visiting relatives, listeners will enjoy being back, however briefly, in 221b Baker Street.
Ken Bentley directs so as to let the story flow and the cast to do what they do so well. Is this an essential release for fans of the Big Finish Holmes stories? Perhaps not, but it is most welcome and a delightful slice of Christmas to listen to again next December.