16 May 2015

BF: The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Bomber

Continuing the saga begun in The Archive (review here) we pick up the action nearly 70 years after the final events of the last episode. It's 1911 and Sherlock Holmes is still active in his twilight years. I think it's probably fair to say that this is more of a standalone tale than the last one, but David Llewellyn uses this to his advantage. Framing The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Bomber with Holmes recounting events in a letter to Watson gives this a markedly different tone and emphasis.

I've no idea if this device is a common feature of Big Finish's Sherlock Holmes series as, like the other five series involved in this boxset, I've no prior experience of them. I am of course with the character though, and it's interesting to see how this incarnation, played by Big Finish Executive Producer Nick Briggs, varies from other realisations. I'm afraid it's still not a series I'm overly interested in delving further into, but I certainly enjoyed this brief foray into the early twentieth century.

The main plot of the story is introduced to us and Holmes by his brother Mycroft, played with excellent world-weariness by David Warner. A certain type of establishment is being targeted by the titular terrorist and Mycroft is keen for the culprit to be apprehended. Through a series of logical but speedy deductions, Sherlock soon has the criminal in custody. One thing I'm enjoying about Llewellyn's writing - this is unfortunately only my third encounter, after Gallifrey: Intervention Earth and The Archive - is that there's always something going on under the surface; all is not as it seems. This style of storytelling works particularly well in this rather condensed, serialised format where there isn't as much time to explore characters as in disc-long stories.

The mystery, it would appear, is resolved rather quickly, but there are of course more revelations to come. For a Sherlock Holmes story, the plot is decent, especially given the time constraint, but does rely on a couple of conveniences. It's almost impossible to comment on them without giving them away, which I'm reluctant to do, especially the day after release. So click the below button (which should work) at your peril - although I have still tried to keep it vague.

All in all, then, this is quite a fun adventure through the London of Arthur Conan Doyle. It's impressive how well both Llewellyn and Scott Handcock, the boxset's director, manage to move from the high-concept, action-oriented space opera of The Archive to the slow, foggy, intriguing world of Sherlock Holmes. This is more of an individual tale by necessity, but nonetheless a good one. It adds to the ongoing narrative but at the same time it almost feels like this tale could be removed (with the exception of the very last, post-credits scene) and little difference would be made. I look forward to be proved wrong as soon as possible! This is certainly exciting, but the jeopardy in this tale wasn't quite at the same level as in The Archive, perhaps understandably; after all, they're not going to kill off Sherlock Holmes. An enjoyable, high quality, well conceived and executed taste of Big Finish's Holmes.

You can buy The Worlds of Big Finish here.

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