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  • Writer's picturePete Mesling

Off the Shelf: Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of a Dozen Favourites

Croatian publisher Amaranthine Books has been on my radar ever since they launched with an appealing edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde several years ago, but it wasn’t until last year’s Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of a Dozen Favourites that I took the plunge and purchased one of their titles. Am I glad I did!!

The classic edition of this book has become a favorite in my collection, and I kind of suspected it would from the moment it was announced. First, there’s the editorial concept of the book. It comprises Conan Doyle’s twelve favorite Holmes stories, which to me is a brilliant way to present a limited edition Sherlock Holmes collection without producing a book too unwieldy and expensive to be practical.

Then, of course, there are the illustrations of Manuel Šumberac. I can’t recall the last time I was this excited by the illustrations for a limited edition. Maybe not since the Subterranean Press run of Robert McCammon’s Matthew Corbett novels (artwork by Vincent Chong). Each of the Holmes illustrations shows the key events of a single story and is presented on the verso immediately preceding that story. They’re absolutely brilliant. You can’t ignore them before plunging into the adventure itself, and you can’t resist turning back to them as you read. They’re simply irresistible.

So yes, this is a limited edition that’s meant to be read and enjoyed, not simply placed on a shelf to collect dust (not to worry; instructions are included for reading the book without damaging the spine). Then again, this is true for me of all limited editions. They are not meant to be static objects of beauty. They want to be held, fondled, read, and appreciated (carefully). I take this philosophy so far as to turn up my nose at the idea of protecting my books with mylar covers. In fact, I’ve been known to remove such covers from books that I’ve purchased on the secondary market. Feeling the dust jacket and observing it without glare is part of the experience, not to mention slipping it off to read and behold the naked volume beneath.

But I’m not here to pontificate or provoke. I’m here to share little bits of my treasured personal library. And, having done so once again, I bid you adieu, book lovers. Until next time …

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