I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dakin's story-by-story analysis of Arthur Conan Doyle's canon, even when I disagreed with Dakin's conclusions. His interpretations are always thoughtfully argued, and he raises fascinating points to consider about the works and the larger portrait they provide of the Great Detective. Dakin plays The Game, and thus he treats Holmes and Watson as real historical people (and Conan Doyle as the Literary Agent); this both amuses/entertains and fails to get in the way of truly worthwhile points about characterization, plot points, and the real "mysteries" of the canon (the location of Watson's wounds, the total number of wives he had, the identity of certain illustrious personages only hinted at in the texts, etc.).
I particularly appreciated two aspects of this commentary: Dakin's meticulously produced timeline of the stories (with his reasons for his choices) and his references to where his dating of the adventures (and, for that matter, other points of interpretation) differs from other Holmesian authorities and commentators. The reader gains a good sense of what the contested points are in Holmesian criticism and who ranks among many of the field's major voices.
Dakin gives The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes rather short shrift, unfortunately, and this is my main complaint. On the whole, however, this is a remarkable resource, and going through it cover to cover during one of my rereadings of the canon was a delightful experience.
I bought this book way back in the seventies, and has found it a source for enlightenment and entertainment ever since. The Chronology and the notes to all the stories of the Canon has served as my benchmark for everys sherlockian publication ever since. Dakin's main weaknesses are his insistance on treating Holmes as an historical person (called Playing the Game in sherlockian tribe-language) and his unwillingness to include some of the weaker stories of The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes in the Canon. Nevertheless, this book is indispensable for any serious Sherlokian (altough the list of canonical characters sporting beards and moustaches can hardly be crucial to anyone's studies).