Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Sherlock Holmes for Funsies

As some of you know I enjoy some crime fiction but until very recently I had never read the grandaddy of them all, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a cultural icon and touchstone that we are all probably aware of but have we read the actual stories?  Someone I used to know really loved these stories and re-read them every year and I was not really interested at the time but now that I do really enjoy crime fiction (though not really whodunits) I thought it might be fun to check them out so I found a book of selected stories and off I went.

I can’t say I loved them but here’s what I did like about the stories. The humor. What really struck me was the wit and silliness of some of the stories and some of the details of the writing. Doyle’s writing is so meticulous and careful and some of Watson’s little turns of phrase are just these little jewels that catch the light. Some of the stories themselves are just plain silly too. It surprised me that they were not all murder stories and that some of them are outlandish, like the one about the geese or the guy who pretends to be a vagrant. (Don’t ask me for names, I have no idea.)

I really liked Holmes’s personality which was way more nerdy than I expected. I've been watching the show Elementary and really enjoying Jonny Lee Miller's take on the character, a solitary misfit who nonetheless yearns for connection but is extremely picky about the kind and quality of connection he accepts.

And I like Watson okay but I find him kind of priggish and stiff. He’s the straight man to Holmes’s uber nerd so it’s not really his fault but he is kind of boring. 

Overall I enjoyed reading the stories and I may read more at some point but I’m going to stick to my gruesome violent giallis and murder books for the most part. I  recognize the debt the crime genre owes to Doyle and I respect the work even if it’s not going to be my first choice. I’m glad I dipped in though and I would recommend you do the same, if you haven’t.

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