The Sherlock Holmes stories only books that come close to convincing me that crime writing can work as short fiction. Arthur Conan Doyle manages to whittle down the relevant details so nothing feels rushed. The other crime short stories that I’ve read just don’t manage to get all the details across adequately in a shorter form. When I heard about Lauren Wilkinson’s short story A Scandal in Brooklyn, I had to see if she could do what Conan Doyle had managed.
My final read of last month was something that I’d been intrigued by since watching the Netflix adaptation. However, I wasn’t exactly desperate to read it. The major reason that I actually decided to read it was because I need an E to complete my reading challenge. Officially, it’s not even an E title but I’m giving myself a pass on this one. Obviously, I’m a big fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, so I was a little worried about reading this. I’d been burnt by Anthony Horowitz’s The House of Silk before. It just didn’t pass the vibe check and didn’t get the character right. At least Nancy Springer isn’t writing an actual Holmes mystery.
I know that it might seem that my dislike of Enola Holmes was mostly because of how much a fan I am of Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary creation. That I’m some sort of traditionalist who can’t see the character in any other way than a Victorian gent. But that’s not true. I’m always willing to give it a chance. After all, we’ve seen enough of the same old adaptation over the years. And I know that I was initially dubious of Sherlock but that’s got more to do with Stephen Moffat’s writing skills than anything else. I long for the day that we see a Sherlock Holmes that we’ve never seen before. It was the reason that I really wanted to see Ian McKellen playing an older Holmes. I had always expected to watch it when it came out but life never quite pans out as you expect.
Now that Henry Cavill has played Sherlock Holmes, does that mean that Benedict Cumberbatch or Robert Downey Jr. are going to play Superman? It would only be the fair thing to do. Although, they’d have to play him as a side character in another person’s film. For Cavill is mere a bit player in Netflix’s adaptation of Nancy Springer’s YA series about his younger sister. It has garnered an awful lot of attention thanks to the fact that Stranger Thing‘s Millie Bobby Brown has been cast in the main role. Brown has become quite the darling since she became Eleven. There was little doubt that people would rave about his film but how much of it is about her rather than the film? I guess I had to find out for myself.
So, I think I’m finally at the end of my list of outstanding reviews. It feels like an absolute age since I saw this film so it’s a relief to be finally writing it up. And I was pretty excited about seeing this one. I mean, there was a time when seeing the names Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly on a movie poster would bring nothing but glee. So, the idea that they were coming together to reinvent Sherlock Holmes, another of my major loves, was perfect for me. Let’s be honest, since Stephen Moffat came along, the baker street detective has started to be taken a bit too seriously. The fan girls want him dark, broody, and sexy. Despite the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is a far cry from the man Arthur Conan Doyle came to despise. What we really needed was for someone to come along and take him down a peg or two. But then Holmes and Watson came along. Complete with rescheduled release dates and Sony refusing to screen the film for critics. It quickly became clear that this wasn’t going to be the film we wanted it to be.
Sherlock Holmes is quite the character. According to certain statistics, he’s the most portrayed human literary character. Way back in 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded him the title after it decided the sleuth had been depicted a whopping 254 times on-screen. A number that beat Hamlet by 48. All in all, the great detective has, according to the numbers, been played by over 75 different actors so, by this point we’re definitely starting to get that sense of déjà vu. Which is probably why so many TV and film executives keep trying to find new and interesting ways to reinvent the character. We’ve seen him with deerstalker, without deerstalker, with a coke habit, without a coke habit, with emotions, without emotions. He’s been played by American actors, by British actors, by Grand Moff Tarkin, and by Dr Strange. So many options. It’s amazing anyone even keeps trying when there have been so many options! But, apparently, people will never stop trying to make it new again. Something director Thom Eberhardt took to a new level in 1988 when he turned the traditional premise on its head starring two of our finest actors.
So, this week definitely got away from me somewhere. I expected to be finished with another book by this point but I’m still reading both of the books I’ve got on the go. I should have Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet by next week but, for now, I’m having to find something random to fill out this post. Thankfully, it’s nearly October and I’ve been trying to get into the spirit of Halloween all month. Last week I posted a Nightmare Before Christmas themed post on Instagram so when I discovered this book tag everything seemed perfect. It helps that I love both the book and the film A Nightmare Before Christmas. But who doesn’t? It’s the perfect film to start you off on your journey to Christmas as early as October. Why wait until advent to start watching Christmas films when Tim Burton has you sorted? And why watch the film when you can do the book tag? Yeah? No? Okay. Well I’m invested now.
Dear Sherlock Holmes,
Back in 2012, you were awarded the Guinness World Record for the most portrayed literary human. According to the GWR people you have been depicted in film and television 254 times, What an achievement. Especially considering your own author was so sick of you that he killed you off in cold blood. But as we all know, you have always been a fan favourite and they campaigned to bring you back from the dead. And now, apparently, we still can’t get rid of you.
Now, I’m not trying to suggest this is a bad thing. I’m a big fan of your books and enjoy Benedict Cumberbatch’s face enough to watch the BBC adaptation. I get why the books have last as long as they have. Arthur Conan Doyle tackles each mystery with the same medical practicality that he would a patient’s ailment. He has written some clever, memorable, and exciting crime books. They aren’t exactly dark or, indeed, very taxing to read. They aren’t all that difficult to fathom in the end. But they are incredibly put together and you can all the pieces coming to place as you turn the page.
There is a great sense of nostalgia and British-ness within these stories too. It’s something that makes it so comforting to read. They totally encapsulate the period in which they were written. The stories set in London are such wonderful representations of society at the time. The characters all feeling real. You tell us so much more about the time in which you were written than you really do about your main characters. And that’s, really, how it should be. You represented the fear at the time for the growing population in London as it became the fastest growing city in the world (I think but don’t quote me on it). You’re well worth a read.
But, I don’t get what’s happening to you, Sherlock. You’ve always been a great detective who can pick up on subtle social cues to find out things about people. You’ve always seen things most people don’t. And you’ve always had amazing skills when it comes to disguise, weaponry, and self-defence. However, you’re an arsehole. A genuine, honest to goodness arse. But you’ve become a Hollywood hero. Women on Tumblr are obsessed with you. They want to try to change you. You’re up there with Mr Rochester and Heathcliff for most absurd literary crush. It’s all Steven fucking Moffat’s fault, of course. In updating you for modern-day you had to become someone capable of falling in love. Capable of feeling real feelings. It’s ruined you.
And, the worst part is, you’d mostly hate it. You did have feelings in the books but it happened so rarely. Rare glimpses of care and sympathy. The rest of the time you were just a brain. But not anymore. Now you’re a dynamic and sexy hero. A sexy hero that you either want to be or want to be with. The whole franchise has gone a bit insane and I can’t imagine what Arthur Conan Doyle would think. He hated you enough before so what the hell would he think about you now?
The problem with you being portrayed so many times is that each new time there has to be something unique. Something that makes you stand out from the rest. And with every subsequent adaptation we move a little further away from who you were. For proof, just look at this awful obsession people have about you and Irene Adler. Why is everyone so keen to make people fall in love? You met her once. She was in one short story. But suddenly, thanks to Steven fucking Moffat, she has become the love of your life. It’s so frustrating. I enjoy Sherlock as much as the next person but I don’t like it as a fan of the books. I like it in spite of being a fan of the books.
The distinction is clear,