Read The Lost Radio Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Online

Authors: Ken Greenwald

Tags: #detective, #myster, #plays, #Sherlock Holmes, #victoriana, #SSC

The Lost Radio Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

BOOK: The Lost Radio Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
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The Lost Adventures of



based on the original radio plays by

Dennis Green


Anthony Boucher



Written by

Ken Greenwald



Barnes & Noble






The Sherlock Holmes short stories in this
book were based on the following radio plays by Denis Green and Anthony


The Second Generation

Broadcast on December 17, 1945 (based on an
incident in
A Scandal in Bohemia)


The April Fool Adventure

Broadcast on April 1, 1946 (based on an
incident in
A Study in Scarlet)


The Amateur Mendicant Society

Broadcast on April 2, 1945 (based on an
incident in
The Five Orange Pips)


The Out-Of-Date Murder

Broadcast on September 9, 1945 (based on an
incident in
Wisteria Lodge)


The Demon Barber

Broadcast on January 28, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Yellow Face)


Murder Beyond the Mountains

Broadcast on January 15, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Empty House)


The Uneasy Easychair

Broadcast on May 13, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Musgrove Ritual)


The Baconian Cipher

Broadcast on May 27, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Sign of Four)


The Headless Monk

Broadcast on April 15, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Devil’s Foot)


The Camberwell Poisoners

Broadcast on February 18, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Five Orange Pips)


The Iron Box

Broadcast on December 31, 1945 (based on an
incident in
Silver Blaze)


The Girl with the Gazelle

Broadcast on March 25, 1946 (based on an
incident in
The Final Problem)


The Notorious Canary Trainer

on April 23, 1945 (based on an incident in
Wisteria Lodge)



This edition published by Barnes &
Noble, Inc.

arrangement with Wieser & Wieser, Inc.

1993 Barnes & Noble Books.


Copyright © 1989, 1993 by 221 “A” Baker
Street Associates

All rights reserved.

Illustrations © 1989 by Alfredo Alcala

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN 1-56619-540-3


Released with the kind permission of Dame
Jean Conan Doyle.

Editorial supervision by Richard Mullins.

Cover photograph: AP/Wide World Photos








gone, still with us through

creativity and work. Their

writing on the Sherlock Holmes

series made this book possible.



Thanks to:





patience, understanding and

made this book a reality.





early October in 1945. I’m only a month into my tenth year. School has just let
out and I am walking home with my best friend Jerry as we joke and talk until
we reach the corner where we part to go our separate ways. It’s Monday, and the
beginning of the week for all the kids serials on the radio. I want to get home
as soon as I can to hear Superman, Terry and the Pirates, and Jack Armstrong.
As I wave goodbye to Jerry, I walk the two long blocks to my house and notice
that almost all the windows in every house are closed. That’s because a cool
breeze is in the air and we are heading towards winter. Only three weeks ago,
in September, it was extremely hot. Everyone’s window was open because air
conditioning for the average home was unheard of in those days. I mention this
because I can remember vividly walking down the street one hot summer evening
while people were listening to Al Jolson on the Kraft Music Hall radio show. He
was so popular that everyone, yes, everyone listened to him. That’s why, as I
walked that evening, I could hear the show coming from every window. I never
missed a joke, a line, or a word of the broadcast! That was one of the great
joys of radio. You didn’t have to stay in one place and look at a screen to see
and understand what was going on. Women often sewed, ironed clothes or prepared
food for the coming meal, while men would be fixing something, working on a
crossword puzzle or helping their children as the radio was playing in the
background, never once missing a beat on what was being presented.

When I got home
from school, I tossed my books and homework on my bed and went right to the
radio to catch up on what was happening to Superman and all the other adventure
heroes. But what I really was waiting for, as I did every week for thirty-nine
weeks a year, was to turn the radio dial to KHJ, the Mutual Network radio
station in Los Angeles, so I could listen to THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK
HOLMES, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. By that time, my mother had
gotten me ready for bed, making me put on my pajamas, brush my teeth and wash
my face, all of which I was loath to do as a kid. She would give me a kiss,
then tuck me under the covers and close the door to my room, while I lay there
totally and miserably wide awake. I never wanted to go to sleep that early. I
wanted to listen to all the adult radio shows, just like my mom and dad were
doing. When I was sure my parents were busy in the other room, I would quietly
turn on the radio, which was located next to my bed on the desk. It was a tiny
four-tube Arvin with no dial light. By the way, I still own that radio. When I
turned it on, the tubes would light up bright for a second, casting their
iridescence against the wall, then dim down as they warmed up. It was dark in
my room, but as my eyes because accustomed, the dim light from the glowing
tubes cast a gentle reddish glow on everything so that I could see clearly. I
knew exactly where each important radio station was on the dial by touch and
position. It was easy for me to find KHJ. I would keep the volume very low so
my mother would not know I was listening, then tune in Sherlock Holmes. Once I
heard the Mutual Network cue, I knew the show would start. And sure enough,
there came the familiar theme music, which always sent a chill up my spine. I
would pull the covers tight around me and push my pillow and head as close to
the radio as I could to catch every word, every action, every deed that
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went through. I was never disappointed. It was
one of my favorite radio shows as a child. For some reason, I never remembered
the stories for more than a week, each new story taking over when the next
Sherlock Holmes show was broadcast. But I never forgot the music or those
wonderfully familiar voices of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Before I knew
it, all of that disappeared, as I grew up and entered the world of reality. As
an adult I often hummed the theme music to the radio show or thought about
Rathbone and Bruce in their roles as Holmes and Watson. Yes, I had watched the
films many times (they are still playing them over and over on television), but
it wasn’t the same. How can sitting in a movie theatre or sitting on a couch
before my t.v. duplicate the wonderful times I had when I was tucked safely in
bed with the lights out listening to a small radio present me with drama,
fantasy, comedy and variety, all for free, and all of it dancing beautifully in
my imagination, day by month by year? There has never been anything quite like
it and, sadly, I must say there will never be anything like it again.

That’s what
radio, Sherlock Holmes, and the nineteen forties meant to me. Now, in the late
nineteen eighties the world is totally different. Yet, what listening to radio
did for me was to open the door to the world of imagination and entertainment.
And that’s where I stayed. I have, and am now working in the entertainment
industry, as a writer, producer and director of short films, and as one member
of a team of archivists for Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, an important Los
Angeles radio museum. Out of my contacts with people from my work in the
archives, the world of Sherlock Holmes on radio came to life again!

I had never
imagined I would once again hear that familiar opening theme on the show. When
I did, that same kind of exciting chill I had as a child again ran up my spine.
I was home. And I was determined to do something about it. It was by sheer
accident that our small group of radio devotees learned of a long run of
missing Sherlock Holmes radio shows from 1945. Our excitement grew even greater
for we knew it had to be Rathbone and Bruce as the famous detective and his
loyal companion. We managed to track the shows down and collect them. It was a
true gold mine of Sherlock Holmes radio shows! But what to do with them? Often
the most commonplace events and daily doings lead to deeds and actions that
would ordinarily not even be considered. I and the small group of friends who
had rescued the Holmes radio shows were sitting in, of all places, a hamburger
joint, discussing this amazing find, when one of us said:

“Why don’t we
release a couple of the shows on a record?”

We looked at
each other for a moment in quiet curiosity, then we burst forth with talk and
plans. One year later the record album was released. Six months after the
release everyone turned to me and said:

“Ken, you’re a
writer, why don’t we put out a book of Sherlock Holmes short stories based on
the radio plays?”

Incredible! This
thing was snowballing and everyone was delighted and excited by it all. Before
long, we signed a contract with Simon and Schuster to have them release the
entire 1945 Holmes radio season with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as the

I was more than
half way through writing the book of short stories when this happened. As I
helped produce the cassettes and write the book, the greatest excitement of all
was that I could listen to and relive the stories of Holmes and Watson on the
radio as I had done those long years ago in 1945.

Before I started
writing this book, I had to ask myself an important question: How do I try and
top the writing of Denis Green and Anthony Boucher? I decided it was silly to
try. Denis Green and Anthony Boucher were wonderful writers and I had no
intention of trying to best them. Instead, I wanted to augment them, to add to
their writing with my own. What I have done is to take a long lost medium of
writing, radio plays, and turn them into the short story form. Not an easy
task. There is much in the radio play format that doesn’t work well in the
short story format. I had to change these things and add dialogue where
necessary. Musical bridges that were used in the radio shows to show passage of
time I had to turn into Watson’s narrative describing what Holmes and he were
doing. Scene shifts and broken actions in the radio plays that were easily
accepted by the listening audience as a natural progression had to be
translated into the written form for the reader to comprehend.

What we have
then is a book of stories that is a combination of the writings of Denis Green,
Anthony Boucher and Ken Greenwald. I retained as much of the original as
possible, changing or adding only where necessary. Most of the narrative scenes
and descriptions are my own. If you really want to see the differences, just
pick up some of the Simon and Schuster radio cassettes in your local bookstore
and compare what I have done to what Green and Boucher did originally.

An important
factor is that I have not tried to write as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. It
would be unfair to him. I am not trying to imitate Conan Doyle’s style, but
rather to be true to the writings of Green and Boucher, using the style of
Victorian English as the structure on which to unfold the stories. This
approach has allowed me to honor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters, retain
the feel of Victorian England, and to utilize as much of the Green and Boucher
material as possible.

I would like to
emphasize a very important point as you read these stories. There have been
many actors portraying Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. To me, and to thousands
of others, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce are, and will always be, Sherlock
Holmes and Dr. Watson. It doesn’t matter that their performances often do not
fit Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s actual descriptions of the characters and how they
were in his original works. It simply seems to be the accepted way most people
identify Basil Rathbone with Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce with Dr. Watson.
Therefore, please be aware I wrote these stories with Rathbone and Bruce in
mind, just as Green and Boucher did for the radio series. As you read, do think
of Rathbone and Bruce in the roles of the great detective and his companion,
won’t you?


Los Angeles, California

September 8, 1988


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BOOK: The Lost Radio Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
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