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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
By Randall Stock, 14 March 2005
Sherlockian Heraldry provides 221 coats of arms pertaining to Sherlock Holmes. Inspired by Julian Wolff's Practical Handbook of Sherlockian Heraldry (1955), John Brousch researched and devised these arms over many years.
Heraldry has rules but it's not an exact science. Brousch needed to determine the written descriptions (blazons) for each coat of arms and then interpret them to create drawings. Although I don't know enough about heraldry to comment on his accuracy, it certainly appears that he did serious research and produced high-quality renderings.
His work comes with a printed booklet for quick reference and an e-book on CD-ROM. While both contain the written descriptions for each coat of arms, the e-book also has the associated illustration. An e-book format is ideal for this subject since it reproduces the drawings in full color and allows a reader to zoom in for details.
The e-book is in PDF (Portable Document Format) that's viewable with Adobe (Acrobat) Reader. Most people already have the Adobe Reader software on their computer so no installation or setup is required. This is an extremely valuable benefit. Adding software always increases the potential for bugs and conflicts. You don't need new software so your computer is more stable, you save disk space, and you leverage existing knowledge about using the Adobe Reader. Because this software is so widely used you are also less likely to encounter bugs and to have more tech support resources than if it were a custom application.
You can open the e-book directly from the CD-ROM, or copy it to your hard drive. It is a very large file, so to save disk space most people will just use it from the CD. The performance was fine from my CD drive.
Since most people are at least somewhat familiar with Adobe Reader, they will find the e-book easy to open and use. In addition, the publisher has added an index of hyperlink bookmarks which allows the user to simply click a name and see the coat of arms. See my tips for how to use the product.
There are several other nice touches. Brousch includes a useful bibliography and specific source cross-references for each item. All the illustrations are also available in bitmap format to give users additional printing flexibility. The CD-ROM comes in an attractive book-style package that is easily shelved with your Holmes collection.
As a novice, I would have liked more information about heraldry. That would allow me to better understand and appreciate the work Brousch produced. Fortunately heraldic primers and glossaries are widely available on the Internet.
Overall I like the product and think it's a charming extrapolation from the Canon. Sherlockians with an interest in heraldry will certainly want it. Because it's a focused and specialized topic, general Sherlockians won't refer to it on a regular basis but may find it to be interesting nonetheless.
Sherlockian Heraldry on CD-ROM by John Brousch
Published by and available from The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box
1 CD-ROM; 1 printed booklet.
Version: 1.0 (March 2005)
File Format: Portable Document Format (PDF)
Requires: Adobe Acrobat Reader (included) or other PDF viewing software
Windows: CD-ROM Drive, PDF viewing software such as Adobe (Acrobat) Reader
Mac OS: CD-ROM Drive, PDF viewing software such as Adobe (Acrobat) Reader
Reviewed/Tested on: Windows 98SE with 500 MHz Pentium III, 128MB, 1024x768 display, Adobe Acrobat Reader v5.01
Also viewed with Adobe Reader v6