A classic Sherlock Holmes tale gets lavish interactive treatment, with opportunities for sleuthing for readers.
“The Adventure of the Red-Headed League,” published by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) in 1891, is one of the most durable and appealing Holmes tales, rich in London scenery and filled with tunnels and treasure-hunting. This app’s creators have taken full advantage of the story’s breadth and Doyle’s eye for detail. Every few paragraphs of the original story (accurately reproduced) is matched to a lightly animated portrait of what’s described: Users can swing around Holmes’ apartment, the room where Jabez Wilson has been curiously hired (on the strength of nothing besides his red hair) to copy out an encyclopedia, the London thoroughfare where Holmes begins to put the pieces together, and the basement where the tale comes to a dramatic close. While moving around, users can “pick up” items (a coin, a pipe, a violin), which are described in more detail in a “collections” page; a “dossier” page does much the same for the story’s characters, and a map provides brief bits of information on the story’s London locales. The collect-’em-all game aspect of the app is only moderately appealing and informative, but no matter: The 29 scenes of the story itself are brilliantly illustrated, particularly the closing animation that resolves the mystery, blending the look of pencil drawings and computer-generated imaging. Using the app in portrait mode gives access to the story’s text, while landscape mode lets readers hear Simon Vance’s top-shelf narration; either way, the background string-quartet music captures the story’s energy and Victorian mood without being invasive.
A smartly designed treatment of Doyle’s London that makes a short story feel full and novelistic. (Requires iOS 6.1 and above.)