Category Archives: Sherlock Holmes

A collection of essays detailing my opinions and thoughts on Sherlock Holmes.

A Study In Scarlet (1887) pt. 3 – Everything Else

A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet

Want to read this along with me? This essay is part of A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887. I used the epub version found on Feedbooks.com.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to cover every chapter in the level of detail that I did in the last two essays. It’s just that the first two chapters of Scarlet are so important to the rest of the canon, I had to make sure I covered them pretty thoroughly. The rest of the book has plenty of things to talk about as well, but in a much more cursory fashion.

Lestrade and Gregson

The more notable minor characters are also introduced introduced in this novel, including Detective Lestrade.1 Again, Lestrade is often presented as an idiot, although Holmes explicitly says he is “the best of a bad lot.” However, Lestrade slowly does become an idiot over the course of the canon, which is unfortunate because here you can see some of the complexities that get lost in many adaptations and pastiches.

Continue reading A Study In Scarlet (1887) pt. 3 – Everything Else

  1. I have heard his name pronounced “Leh-strahde” and “Leh-strayed.” I’m not sure which is correct. I tend to go with “Leh-strahde,” personally.

A Study in Scarlet (1887) pt. 2 – Mr. Sherlock Holmes

A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet

Want to read this along with me? This essay is part of A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887. I used the epub version found on Feedbooks.com.

Now that I’ve covered some of the high points of our faithful chronicler, let’s move on to the star of our tour, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, soon to be of 221B Baker Street.

Much like how many people assume that Watson is an idiot, many also assume that Holmes is some kind of super-genius that knows everything. To be fair to both perspectives, those characters are often written that way in a variety of pastiches (and, to an extent, even by Doyle himself), but it’s still not entirely true. Once Watson and Holmes are settled into 221B, Watson becomes obsessed with Holmes1 and writes a list of what Holmes does and doesn’t know, as well as what he can do and cannot do. Many points of this list turn out to be completely wrong,2 but there are some key points that will resonate throughout the canon.

Continue reading A Study in Scarlet (1887) pt. 2 – Mr. Sherlock Holmes

  1. And thus we find one of many little bits that have fueled the “Watson is gay for Holmes and vice versa” theories for decades. And you thought it all started with Kirk and Spock.
  2. I generally take this to mean that Watson doesn’t know Holmes as much as he thinks he does, but some of it can certainly be laid at the feet of Doyle’s legendary continuity errors.

A Study in Scarlet (1887) pt. 1 – Dr. John Watson

A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet

Want to read this along with me? This essay is part of A Study in Scarlet, published in 1887. I used the epub version found on Feedbooks.com.

Since these essays, by necessity, discuss the plot points of each story, I encourage you to read them after you’ve read the story in question. Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’m going to immediately make a comment about A Study in Scarlet before you read it – it’s only half of a Sherlock Holmes novel (and a slim novel overall by modern standards). You can skip chapters one through five of the second part and not miss much of anything. Look up that section of the plot on Wikipedia or something, or read it if you really want the whole experience, but know going in that I’m going to skip lightly over a large chunk of this book.

Since this is the very first Sherlock Holmes story, there’s a lot of groundwork to establish Watson and Holmes as characters before the case begins in earnest. Really, even if you decide you don’t want to go over the entire canon, reading just the first two chapters of Scarlet tells you a lot about the two characters that dispels quite a number of myths and misconceptions about them.

Continue reading A Study in Scarlet (1887) pt. 1 – Dr. John Watson

Arsene Lupin

Maurice Leblanc.

Image via Wikipedia

For a while now (okay, many years), I’ve been meaning to read Maurice Leblanc‘s stories of Arsene Lupin. A couple of years ago, I noticed that a half dozen or so of his books are now in the public domain and available on Project Gutenberg, so I downloaded them, but never got around to reading them. Over vacation I’ve been toying with my new netbook, but mainly trying to get some decent ebook software on it. After a lot of testing, I’m using FBReader — it’s not ideal or all that pretty, but it works the best for me.

Yesterday, we had a conversation at work about old properties that have been turned into movies decades after they were popular, and the movie versions being more inspirational than the fiction to even later adaptations (Sherlock Holmes, of course, but Conan and Tarzan were also mentioned). Based on that, I remembered that Maurice Leblanc wrote a number of unauthorized crossovers between Lupin and Sherlock Holmes, and I was vaguely curious to much his presentation of Holmes diverged from Doyle’s vision. Plus, I read on Wikipedia that Lupin himself spawned a number of movies and TV spinoffs. Since I was mostly[1] unfamiliar with Lupin, I decided to sit down with the first set of short stories and read up on him a bit. I expected to read one story and then maybe get some more work done that night.

By the time I went to bed, I had downloaded the same book to my iPhone so I could finish the last story, because I was not going to be able to sleep without knowing what happened.

For those who don’t know, Arsene Lupin is one of the original “gentleman thief” characters that inspired many similar characters (most notably, The Saint). He is a master of disguise, incredibly intelligent (sounds familiar?), and possessing of a certain sense of humor and nobility that puts him into bad situations, but also gives him a flair that makes him engaging. The first nine stories generally follow a kind of timeline, although there’s some jumping back and forth in Lupin’s career — it’s somewhere between an anthology and a novel. I read the English translation provided by Project Gutenberg, which has some errors and redundancies, but the stories are still quite engaging and easy to read despite that. I mean, this guy manages to steal from someone’s locked and guarded manor while he’s still in jail.

If you’ve finished up the Sherlockian canon and are looking for some new turn-of-the-20th-century action/crime stories, you can’t go wrong with Lupin.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

All of Leblanc’s work on Project Gutenberg

Footnote 1: I did actually listen to an audiobook reading of the first story, “The Arrest of Arsène Lupin,” so I wasn’t going in totally blind.

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Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sidney Paget: Sherlock Holmes

Image via Wikipedia

Note: As people comment here and in other places, I plan to update this with footnotes providing citations for various points (for and against). Because I love playing with Sherlockian research, even if I’m not that awesome at it.

To preface this, I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan for twenty-five years, since my father gave me a water-stained and dog-eared copy of the "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," containing the first twelve stories of the canon. I have read everything by Doyle, probably read an additional two dozen pastiches, listened to close to a hundred audiobook and radio versions, and watched a variety of television and movie renditions of the master detective. While I by no means consider myself a Sherlockian scholar, Holmes is certainly my first and most persistent fandom.

It has been with equal parts excitement and trepidation that I’ve been awaiting the Guy Ritchie vision of Sherlock Holmes. I planned to see it at a midnight showing on my birthday (because that would have just been awesome), but it turns out that the nearest theater to where we were in Tennessee was well over an hour away. So I waited until Sunday, when we got back. I had a terrible cold, and didn’t want to go out — until David asked if I wanted to go see the Sherlock Holmes movie.

Because that’s different, you see.

Interestingly (and to a great extent, flatteringly), a number of my friends have been waiting on my opinion of the film before going to see it themselves. They know of my obsession fanaticism interest in all versions of Holmes, and since I gave my brief review on Twitter, a number of people have contacted me asking for a more detailed review.

If, however, you just want the short version, here it is: I thought it was a very fun and enjoyable update to Sherlock Holmes that keeps to the core of the canon, although casual audiences might not realize that.

More detailed thoughts (minor spoilers)