Friday, May 9, 2014

Series: II - The game is Afoot

Sherlock Holmes

The subject of only four novels and a smattering of short stories, Sherlock Holmes managed to cement himself in the collective conscience of a large portion of the civilized world. He was often the object of scorn by his frustrated creator, but it didn't seem to faze him in the least.

Some say that he was the greatest detective ever. Others believed that only a thin shroud separated him from the greatest of evils. But all seem to see in him something of themselves.

I ran across another argument about which Sherlock Holmes series happens to be the best. The bulk of the discussion focused on which of them managed to stayed true to the original Conan Doyle 'vision.'

Oh, the irony!
(Have you ever noticed how few people actually understand the meaning of that word?)

You see, if you actually go back and reread the original stories, not one book, movie, or series in existence can really claim to be true to the original. Not one.

Last year I reread the entire cannon, and it reminded me how much I enjoy the real Holmes. Modern writers who take on the Holmes mythos always seem to find something wrong, missing, or lacking in the great detective, and rewrite him and his compatriots accordingly. (Some more successfully than others.)

We spend so much time these days with the stories as interpreted by others, in movies and television, that it is easy to loose track of the originals; and it is well worth taking the time to reacquaint ourselves. Most interpretations tend to focus in on a small selection of details to the exclusion of the larger picture. In this way Sherlock Holmes becomes just what the story teller needs him to be, and it also says a great deal about her/his own psyche.

Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
Novels: A Study in Scarlet * The Sign of Four * The Hound of the Baskervilles * The Valley of Fear *
Short Story Collections: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes * The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes * The Return of Sherlock Holmes * His Last Bow * The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes * The Complete Sherlock Holmes Short Stories *

Some Other Sherlock Holmes Treats
* Auguste Lupa - John Lescroart * Mary Russell - Laurie R. King * The Baker Street Letters - Michael Robertson * Sherlock Homes - Adrian Conan Doyle * Arthur Conan Doyle Series - Mark Frost *

Elementary      *      Sherlock


  1. Reading all the Sherlock Holmes stories is a good way to prepare for watching the BBC Sherlock, because they often play with the details, or include one small thing from an entire story as a sort of homage.

    1. Indeed. Benedict Cumberbatch's interpretation of Holmes isn't my favorite, but I started watching it soon after I completed rereading the stories and it was fun. I enjoyed seeing Conan Doyle's stories reimagined and updated. I'm still looking for their blog though!

      Johnny Lee Miller's take is more like the way I see him in my mind when I read. In other words, to me Holmes is less the high functioning sociopath, and more the struggling social misfit with an exceptional skill, overcoming deficits and demons. They also chose to take their plots further away from the original canon and so invite less direct comparison.

      That deerstalker is an incredibly heavy hat to wear, but those who've tried have given us many interesting and enjoyable hours.