Sherlock Holmes returns for a Christmas tale of shadows in the snow.

Nicholas Briggs last played Sherlock Holmes on audio with a definite air of finality. While the ultimate fate of Big Finish’s Great Detective has been settled, there’s plenty of stories still to tell. And it is Christmas, after all. Briggs returns alongside Richard Earl as Watson for ‘The Adventure of the Fleet Street Transparency’.

The Fleet Street Transparency

When a divisive newspaper columnist demands Holmes’ help finding his editorial saboteur, the detective is unmoved. Until his interest is piqued by an unlikely assistant when he and Watson are accosted in a bathhouse. Before long, the duo conduct an exposé of their own and end up taking tea with their elusive helper.

Tea Party

Earl and Briggs as Watson and Holmes have an easy familiarity with one another that’s fun to listen to. Richard Earl plays Watson as the straight man to a more mischievous Holmes than a modern audience may recognise. That’s not to say Briggs is a clown. Particularly in this story, he shows a confidence in outwitting with the abrasive Mr Rangeley that makes Holmes very endearing. Earl gets to play Watson as a peacekeeper between the two men. This three-way dynamic makes for an enticing opening scene, especially when the element of Rangeley’s wife is introduced towards the end.

Dueling Dialects

Anjella Mackintosh and Leighton Pugh round out the cast, with Mackintosh having two small but vital roles. The commanding presence she summons for Lydia, quite different from the voice used for Sally the Farsighted, is applied with some deft direction from Ken Bentley in her pivotal scene with Holmes. Meanwhile, Pugh pulls quadruple duty in a mix of major and minor parts. In particular, he distinguishes the languid Mr Rangeley from the pugnacious Mr Clark brilliantly. I enjoyed his theatre owner character too, even if I couldn’t help being reminded of another Big Finish favourite.

Perfect Punditry

Jonathan Barnes, who wrote this script, clearly had abrasive ‘shock-jock’ pundits in mind when developing the story. However, this inspiration is only a background element, which was probably for the best. Leaning too heavily on the modern equivalent would have been distracting, so it’s kept strictly contemporary. Though it would be interesting to see Holmes one day tackle a case involving freedom of the press head-on. There’s certainly something behind the motives of the culprit that deserves to be fully explored. But this plot clearly has other intentions…

Look Who’s Back

As ever, we won’t give away the ending. But if you’ve followed some of Big Finish’s recent releases you may want to steer clear of the cast list. Suffice to say there’s a big clue. There is also a hint that we’ve not heard the last from this character, which is exciting! Whether this is a backdoor pilot for another series or merely a new addition to the Holmes cast, we’ll let you know when we have more info.

Overall

As a small Christmas special to remind Big Finish fans of the Sherlock Holmes range, this is a treat. While the story isn’t as fleshed out as a full release, it has a strong mystery at its core. Suspense is built around it rather well and the revelations it enables are interesting. It also hints at big things to come for Sherlock Holmes and Big Finish. An exciting prospect even if it occasionally made this story feel like an advert.

Blogtor Rating: 7/10

The Adventure of the Fleet Street Transparency‘ is available to buy now from the Big Finish website. It can also be accessed when pre-ordering ‘The Master of Blackstone Grange‘ due for release in March.

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