Monday, September 3, 2018

Basil of Baker Street: A Three-Book Overview

When my son was small, I introduced him to one of my favorite Disney films The Great Mouse Detective and he loved it too. I realized that I had never read the book/s that the film was based on and we checked out Basil of Baker Street and Basil in the Wild West  by Eve Titus (the only two books the library had at the time) and enjoyed them together. Then in 2016 I chanced upon three of the Basil books at our annual community book sale and brought them home with me (along with a LOT of other books....). I've finally gotten around to reading them all and will give brief reviews here in one post.

Basil of Baker Street (1958): The first of Titus's books featuring the Sherlock Holmes of the mouse world. Here Dr. Dawson introduces us to Basil, tells how he & Holmes (and a village of mice) came to live in the basement of 221B Baker Street, and relates "The Mystery of the Missing Twins." Angela and Agatha have been kidnapped as a way to blackmail Basil into letting the "Terrible Three" take over the mouse village where he and Dawson live. (Though why these sinister criminals would want to live in the basement of the great Sherlock Holmes is beyond me.) But Basil is determined NOT to give in to blackmailers and he and Dawson disguise themselves as sailors in order to track down the crooks. Naturally, the great mouse detective saves the girls and turns the bad guys over to the mouse police.

Just as much fun to read as it was the first time with my son. Titus captures the spirit of the Holmes stories and makes a fun adventure for young readers. ★★★★

[Finished 8/24/18]

Next up was Basil & the Pygmy Cats (1971). This was was sortof Sherlock Holmes meets Indiana Jones. Basil is not only the world's greatest mouse detective, he also has a hobby dabbling in archaeology (he discovered Rockhenge, you know). The story begins with Basil and Dawson planning a trip to Bengistan (near India) where Professor Ratigan (Basil's arch-enemy) has taken over the mousedom. As they are finalizing their plans, a scientist from the British Mousmopolitan Museum comes by with an ancient goblet with a design that seems to indicate that there is an island (very close to Bengistan--what a coincidence!) where pygmy cats are said to be ruled by mice. Would Basil like to join an expedition to find them? Well--of course! But first all the scientists must help him overthrow Ratigan. Which they do. Then they find the pygmy cats. And save them from a volcano--as well as many treasures from the fabled island. And all is well with the mouse world. 

Whimsical fun with far less mystery and much adventure. Still sure to appeal to young readers. ★★

[Finished 8/24/18]

And last on the Basil agenda: Basil in Mexico (1976). This one combines two mysteries. Before Basil and Dr. Dawson can set sail for Mexico (whence Basil has been summoned on a top secret mission), the great detective must solve "The Case of the Counterfeit Cheese." Professor Ratigan (who has obviously escaped justice once again) is up to his usual tricks--this time planting fake cheese made of concrete around the Mousmopolis. When the mice inevitably crunch down on the hard "cheese" and break their teeth, they are forced to go to their dentists. And Ratigan is running a protection scam to skim off the profits from the surge in mouse dental problems. Basil to the rescue! As soon as he hands the villains over to the police, he and the good doctor head to Mexico where they must get to the bottom of the mystery of the missing Mousa Lisa. Someone has painted an excellent forgery and left in the place of the famous artwork. Basil must track down the forger and find missing Mousa Lisa before word gets out that the Mexican museum has been burgled.

Another fun story. I liked that this one returned to the more mysterious plot rather than adventure.  ★★ and 1/2.

[Finished 8/25/18]

1 comment:

Sean said...

Basil and the Pygmy cats was the only book in the series that I read as a child. It was about 40 years ago, so the only thing I remember about it is that it had a "Dramatis personae" list which ended with "and a cast of thousands" That phrase stayed with me for some reason