Big Finish is a company out of England that writes and produces audio dramas around a variety of franchises, most notably Doctor Who. Their kickoff to the second "series" of Sherlock Holmes adventures is a double disc set of The Final Problem/The Empty House. Quite simply, this is simply an excellent dramatization of one of the highlights of the canon, and well worth a listen.
Much of the power of this audio comes not just from drawing from the canon, but also in its staging - beginning with the sound of pen scratching against paper, followed by Watson's (Richard Earl) narration, the story kicks into high gear. It's a moody, atmospheric approach that simply grabs the listener's attention and will not let go. Part of the success is also the way in which Nicholas Briggs plays Holmes - in these stories, rather than play it large, Briggs performs Holmes at almost a whisper pitch, and it is this approach that makes this audio set enthralling, so much so that you will be sorely tempted to order the other audios in the series.
One of the great aspects of the canon is that it can be adapted and molded towards a modern sensibility (witness Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' Sherlock); however, what Nicholas Briggs and Big Finish have done is to make it appealing to a modern ear by focusing on the clarity and simplicity of the original language, making this as much as testament to the skill of Conan Doyle's writing as much as to the appeal of his characters. The fact that his language seems so appropriate to a 21st century medium - and audience - makes this a clear statement of Conan Doyle's career as an author.
If you are looking for a great listen either for traveling or commuting, please head to Big Finish's web site to order - they allow you to purchase either CD or digital download, and you will not be disappointed.
Especially since the audio does something very few adaptations do - draw upon the strength of Conan Doyle's writing style. Eerily atmospheric, this audio is worth adding to your collection.
Editor's note: Gordon regularly covers the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the entertainment industry. You can also find him at Blog THIS, Pal! and Comic Related.