Of Crime Fiction, Murder Mysteries, Forensic TV Shows and Sherlock Holmes
I love forensic dramas and murder mysteries. No, I mean, really really love ’em. I, who do not care to watch too much television, am dead to the world when I’m catching up on my favourite police dramas. The exciting police leg work, the “scientific” lab discoveries, the trail of evidence, the wonderfully up-to-date databases, witty dialogue (I take it when I get it) and the smart/ sexy outfits… all of it. Even the female protagonist wearing 3-inch heels and running through the alleys of Manhattan after that elusive serial rapist…
I’m willing to suspend disbelief quite far.
I have also dragged dear hubby, Wolfman, down this gruesome path, and he has also become rather addicted to this form of entertainment. I got to wondering how my interest in the macabre began… I guess, like with most other things, I have to go back to my childhood. And I might have just discovered how and when this obsession started. All roads lead to Sherlock Holmes.
My love affair with the dreamily intelligent Mr. Holmes began when I was still in pigtails. That is the only time in my life when I’ve made an exception and loved a misogynist. (That was also when I learned what a misogynist was!) And the craze and intensity of that loyalty is such that I have had to control violent outbursts of temper when some dared to bad-mouth the world’s most famous detective.
When I was about 10 years old, my dad used to read to me. I had a strict bedtime and had to be asleep by 9.30, so he would only read one chapter a night. The very first Sherlock Holmes novel that Dad read to me was The Hound of the Baskervilles. At end of the first chapter, he read out,
“A man’s or a woman’s?”
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank to a whisper as he answered :-
“Mr. Homles, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”
Slap, the book was closed, and I was tucked into bed. Now, how could I possibly go peacefully off to sleep without finding out what happened next? No way! So while I was supposed to be asleep, I started sneaking a peek into what happened next. And didn’t stop (in a manner of speaking) until I had finished all the Sherlock Holmes books. Even today, I reread these books every now and then, and I know for a fact, so does the rest of my family. Being a self-professed crazy fan means that I also consider myself an expert on the subject. And I have come across people who pipe up with the most bizarre “facts” about Holmes.
I met someone a while ago who propounded this brilliant theory: Dr. Watson was placed with Holmes by Scotland Yard to monitor his cocaine habit!
I looked up to determine if he was kidding around and was aghast when I realised he actually believed this theory! I was stunned into silence, jaw drop.
Err… they were fictional characters…
A lot has been written about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the great detective – speculation as to whether he was based on a real character, were he and Watson romantic partners etc. Sidetracked by these speculations, we run the risk of missing the beauty of these stories. This is one of those times when sticking close to the matter at hand and appreciating Holmes’ intellect and deductive skills will be more rewarding. Ignore the possible scandal and sleaze and enjoy the stories. On my latest reread of the entire series, I also realised that Arthur Conan Doyle, while mostly focusing on the plot and story, also has some lovely turn of phrase. Pure reading pleasure. Ah, Mr. Holmes, you have shaped my world so.
I am one of the very many to whom Sherlock Holmes is almost a religion. There are umpteen groups, communities, forums, websites, Holmes artifacts collectors and what-have-you.
Sherlock Holmes books are among those that I will keep going back to. And every time I read any one of them, I tip my hat to the brilliant author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Some facts and figures:
- The stories were first published in 1887 in serial form in London’s Strand Magazine.
- A total of 56 short stories and four novels, narrated by Holmes’ friend, side-kick, and biographer, Dr. John Watson. One or two are narrated in third person and a couple by Holmes himself.
- An eccentric, Holmes was a loner, heavy smoker and kept his tobacco in the toe end of his Persian slipper which he kept on the mantelpiece.
- Holmes was a talented violinist, boxer, actor (expert with disguises) and master chemist.
- A casual user of both cocaine and morphine, Holmes turned to narcotics when he was bored by lack of work and needed some mental stimulation.
- Professor Moriarty was his arch nemesis.
- He lived at 221b, Baker’s Street. (My family was thrilled when we found out that our house is also numbered 221!)
- There are many films and TV series of Holmes’ many cases and more are sure to be produced.
- There are also some movies and TV shows which are a sort of homage to the creation of the Conan Doyle. Monk and House are my two favourites that can be considered Holmesian. The characters, their deductive style and in some cases, even their wardrobe has touches of Homles.
- Some other favourite forensic/crime dramas: CSI, Bones, Criminal Minds, The Closer, Law and Order SVU, Castle.
- There are many many websites dedicated to the brilliant detective. Here are just a few of them: