Monday, January 7, 2008

Revisiting Sherlock Holmes

I belong to three Sisters in Crime chapters, San Joaquin, Central Coast and the Los Angeles chapters. The San Joaquin sisters meet in Fresno, the closest to home, though it takes about an hour and 45 minutes to get there, if there isn’t much traffic. I go whenever I can for two big reasons, I enjoy the company of mystery lovers many of whom are good friends, and there is almost always an interesting speaker. This time it was Wally Conger, a life-long Sherlock Holmes fan and collector.

He shared many interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes that I had never heard before and some intriguing insights. He pointed out that the hero on House is based on Sherlock Holmes in many ways. The doctor, House, is certainly a detective, he’s anti-social, a drug addict, doesn’t do well with relationships, all traits he has in common with Holmes. Another TV detective who has Holmes' traits is Monk.

The Sherlock Holmes books were published between 1887 and 1927. Conger believes the first books are the best. The worst stories were written after Homes “came back to life.” The popularity of the books came about because the first ones are really good. Most are short stories which came out as a series; the first two dozen came out once a month.

Moriarity is only in the final story when Holmes disappeared, presumably dead.

Conger said the reason they are so popular is because they are good stories set in the Victorian era with plenty of atmosphere. Holmes is a unique character, a problem solver, and a Sir Galahad type.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle cared nothing about consistency. He was only concerned with the dramatic effects and didn’t worry about errors. For instance, Watson’s first name is John, but once his wife called him James. Some stories were written during the time Holmes was supposed to be dead. In different stories, Holmes' war wound turns up in different locations.

Most are written as though Dr. Watson wrote the stories, with only two coming from Holmes.

“The Cardboard Box” is considered the most risque of the short stories, though many have sexual elements.

Many authors have written new books with Sherlock Holmes as a character. There are even parodies of Sherlock Holmes, one was written my Mark Twain. Conger doesn’t like it when authors change the basic personalities of Watson and Holmes.

There are now three new movie versions of The Hounds of Baskervilles. There are other Sherlock Holmes movies that sound interesting that I’ll try to find and watch. “The Seven Percent Solution,” “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother,” “The Private Live of Sherlock Holmes”, “Study of Terror”, “Murder by Decree,” and “The Case of the Silk Stitching.”

The Sisters in Crime meeting made for a nice break in a very rainy California weekend.

There are even people who think Sherlock Holmes was a real person.

This was a fun meeting and I heard a lot I didn't know about Sherlock Holmes.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

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