Under the Darkling Sky
A Chrono-Geographic Odyssey Through the Holmesian Canon
John E. Weber


   With Location photographs and Ordance Surveys
   Hard Cover  392 pp. Index
ISBN 978-1-55246-851-7 $60.00
    Quality Trade Paperback 392 pp. Index
ISBN 978-1-55246-852-4 $40.00

Canonical chronologies and location guides are not uncommon, but Under the Darkling Sky is the first volume to combine both disciplines. Utilizing period maps, weather reports, astronomical conditions, and newspaper accounts, the world of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson becomes substantive, much of which still survives to this very day. After the introductory "Elementary Tenets" -- which lay the foundation of the main text, the succeeding chapters are devoted to the date and location of each of the sixty cases, along with some observations, not always of a Canonical bent. The author also uses some slightly irreverent humor to lighten the load, so to speak, and freely casts some speculation on certain issues designed to keep the Holmes fires burning.

John Weber has been a Holmesian since the early 60’s and a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London for over twenty-five years. He is also a founding member of the Syracuse Cinephile Society, a classic film group that sponsors an annual international film convention, Cinefest. His other pastimes include theatre (especially the works of an obscure playwright/ poet from Stratford Upon Avon), opera, palaeontology, astronomy, trains, labyrinths, local history, walking, and reading. He enjoys playing golf, but plays it badly, so don’t go looking for his name in the lists of the next Open Championship in St. Andrews. He lives in Camillus, New York with his cat, Pepper.

Reviews and Letters:

Dear George,
   I received Under the Darkling Sky last week and I’m in the process of reading it for a second time. It is a wonderful book. While I am not versed in the geographical Holmes, it was fascinating to read Mr. Weber’s deductions on canonical locations and to see “Appledore Towers”, the back wall of Watson’s that Holmes clambered over or the 1891 photo of Meiringen and the contemporary picture of the “Englischer Hof”. They will certainly add to my enjoyment of the stories the next time I read them. I also liked the illustrations that accompanied the text. I couldn’t make out the signature and I couldn’t find his (?) name listed anywhere. (By the way, the sundial illustration on page 197 cuts off part of the final paragraph.)
   My interest is in the chronological, and Mr. Weber’s work is a worthy addition that belongs next to the classic eight. The amount of work he has done to date the stories is obvious and impressive. If I may, though, I would like to comment on a few things.
   It was disappointing that The Sign of Four chronology gets only a page and a half discussion. It is perhaps the most important adventure to date. I realize that Mr. Weber believes that Bernard Davies Summer/Winter 1990 SHJ article is the “most well-reasoned solution”, but for those of us who haven’t seen it, a summery of some of the main points in comparison to other theories would not be out of place. The Hound had a little over six pages for its chronology.
   Also, as Darkling is a chrono-geographic exam of the canon, I was hoping to see a resolution to the New Brighton rail station controversy. Peter Wood in a sherlockian.net article on chronology problems states that the station was not built until 1891 (score one for Professor Christ’s August 1891 date), however John Hall in “I Remember the Date Very Well” mentions an article in The Musgrave Papers 1992 that says the station was open in March 1888. As this is both geographic and chronological, I was hoping for Mr. Weber’s expertise on the matter when I ordered the book. Sadly, it was not to be.
   In the minor quibbles department: on page 325, “successive stories in the ‘Return’ series, The Reigate Squires and The Crooked Man” should be “Memoirs”. Also, I don’t know what page it’s on, but Holmes’ alias during the Hiatus was Sigerson not Altamont.
   All in all, well done.