As announced last year, the Gods And Monsters team of director Bill Condon and star Ian McKellen are reuniting for the Sherlock Holmes drama A Slight Trick Of The Mind, based on the excellent novel by Mitch Cullin. We haven't heard much since the autumn, but word has just broken that Laura Linney has joined the cast, playing the aging Holmes' housekeeper Mrs Munro.
That name isn't a mistake: by the time of this story Mrs Hudson is long gone. The book takes place in 1947 when Holmes is 93, long retired to his Sussex beekeeping and frustrated by his diminishing power of recollection. He believes his bees' royal jelly is part of the secret of his longevity, and his further researches into the subject have recently taken him to post-war Japan. There he encounters the son of a former British diplomat who knew Holmes and disappeared at the start of the war. Holmes doesn't remember, but feels the familiar pull of an unfinished case.
The novel weaves together three narratives: Sussex, Japan, and The (also still unsolved) Case Of The Glass Armonicist: a London tale from 1902 when Holmes was still active as a consulting detective. As with The Blanched Soldier and The Lion's Mane, Holmes narrates The Glass Armonicist himself. And while many have suggested it would be lovely to see Patrick Stewart as Dr Watson, we probably shouldn't expect it. Watson is only occasionally and fleetingly mentioned: long dead by the time of the main story and off with a wife in the flashback section.
Mrs Munro features in the Sussex segment, and has a young son who has a profound effect on Holmes. Linney, it seems, is appropriate casting due to a long-standing love of the material. "I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes as a young kid,” she told EW. “You know how some people are into Dungeons & Dragons? I was into Sherlock Holmes. I loved the atmosphere of the stories. I loved the intrigue, his personality. Bill had no idea!”
Condon, meanwhile, views McKellen's Sherlock as "one icon playing another". "I'm looking forward to the combined talents and smarts [of McKellen and Linney]", he says. "Both of them are incredibly detail-oriented and do an amazing amount of work before they get to set, and then they dive off the board and become their characters..."
Shooting on A Slight Trick Of The Mind starts in the UK in July. Cullin's novel has been available in the States since 2005, but is finally published in the UK by Canongate at the end of this month. Click here for McKellen's thoughts on playing the great detective.