The end of December was filled with Sherlock Holmes for me. We had just watched the second movie with Robert Downey, Jr. and I loved it. I’m not a big Guy Ritchie fan, but I absolutely love his treatment of these films and RD is hilarious and the scenery amazing and it’s all so clever. We had also started watching Elementary on television and though we both hate crime procedurals (CSI, Law & Order, SVU, all that crap) found that we really enjoyed this show. The clever solving and deductive reasoning were simply fascinating to me. Well, then we started watching the BBC show Sherlock (Netflix streaming) and that was best of all. Each episode an hour and a half and starring the preposterously named Benedict Cumberbatch (really??) and Martin Freeman, whom we love and know best as Tim, from The Office (the British original; he was also in another great BBC show called The Robinsons) These shows were like a Christmas present-we watched one each night leading up to Christmas and then it ended thrillingly. So since I was feeling all fascinated by Sherlock Holmes, Paul came home from the library one day with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for me, so that I could read the original. I had never in my life considered reading this before because 1. much as I like an old-fashioned book I had to assume that I would find the writing practically Dickensian and 2. I claim to not really like mysteries (but this is false.)
Well, I have to say that I was wrong on all counts because I thoroughly enjoyed every story in this collection. And, it has been really interesting to read these stories now, after having watched all these modern versions of it, and see which elements of his character and the style the various actors, directors, screenwriters, have chosen to use in their retellings. For example, Sherlock plays the violin, something we see often in Sherlock. His practically Asberger’s inability to be empathetic or considerate of others in both television versions doesn’t seem that apparent to me in the written stories. And Irene Adler is a character who seems to be turned into a much bigger story in the modern retellings. I was fascinated that her story, with its risque photo-blackmailing plot, seemed like it was made up for the new versions, but actually came straight from Doyle’s pen.
What I really liked about the collection was, and I guess this is Doyle’s style and his whole way with Sherlock Holmes, that each story is resolved fairly quickly, and there is no toying about with the reader. A person comes to Sherlock Holmes and tells his or her story in a straightforward narrative and then Holmes might go off by himself for a while and then he comes back and tells you how it all worked out. Very little of the story is taken up with actual action-it’s all retelling, a presentation of a riddle or puzzle and Sherlock tells us the answer. And I simply love how he solves things. That is the essence of Sherlock Holmes and faithfully represented in all the tv shows and movies I’ve seen. He makes me feel like I should be more observant. I like how he often tells Watson that he sees the same things everyone else is seeing, it’s just that he actually put the pieces together.
I also liked being able to read the stories individually-no trouble at all to stop and read another novel for a day. I would definitely read more of these.