Spirits in the Material World

It might come as a surprise to many that someone such as myself, who not only writes crime but has spent almost his entire life reading crime books (both fiction and nonfiction), has very little knowledge of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great character, Sherlock Holmes; a detective whose adventures have never gone out of print and have remained, to this very day, as popular as when they were originally published. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’ve always admired Doyle, and I am incredibly fond of Holmes: I love the modern interpretation of him in Sherlock; I enjoyed the first two (or three?) seasons of the American modern interpretation, Elementary; I read the Nicholas Meyer 1970’s interpretations of Holmes, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The West End Horror (which I really should reread), and I do suspect I would have enjoyed the novels more had I been more versed in Sherlockademia); and I both read and loved The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was in junior high school.

And yet, The Hound of the Baskervilles remains, to this day, the only Doyle Holmes story I’ve read.

Shocking, isn’t it? Shocking and appalling. And more than just a little bit embarrassing. I have lots of friends who are devoted Sherlockians–they belong to organizations like the Baker Street Irregulars, have annual meetings to talk and debate all things Sherlock–and yet I’ve kept my lack of knowledge, my complete and utter inexperience with the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a secret from them. But this past week or so, I saw a discussion on Facebook on one of their pages, and on it The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by William S. Baring-Gould was mentioned as a ‘gold standard’, and I thought, ‘perhaps I should get a copy of this and commence my Holmes education with it.’ I dashed over to eBay, found a set in relatively good condition for a low price, and ordered it promptly.

It arrived yesterday, and I am terribly excited.

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I’m not, of course, going to read it straight through; I am still reading Lehane’s Since We Fell, but I can most certainly dive into it here and there.

And let’s face it, my education in things Sherlockian is very overdue.

And is there any more famous character in fiction than Sherlock? I daresay probably not; and since Doyle started publishing his stories in the late nineteenth century, I don’t know that there is another fictional character who has been studied so assiduously, written about more, or around whom an entire academic milieu of study has been built. The volumes are enormous, very thick, but just in paging through there is a wealth of study and information contained within their pages.

It’s very exciting.

And I intend to write about my Sherlockian education on here, sharing it with you, Constant Reader, as I go forth and learn.

And on that note, it’s off to the spice mines with me.

 

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