I have always been strongly drawn to the Sherlock Holmes stories and books, and while reading and writing about Sherlock Holmes I experience strange feelings of familiarity and satisfaction. I have been told I look like Sir Arthur, and that my wife resembles Lady Doyle. Does reincarnation really happen? Is it possible? Make of this whatever you will.
Crime Mystery Detective Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is the world's best-known crime mystery detective. More of his books, stories, movies and TV series have been published, read and viewed than for any other detective character. Sherlock Holmes is also the world's most successful detective; he always solves the crime and identifies the criminal. Sherlock Holmes's creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted for his writing, and literary critics say that the Sherlock Holmes crime detective mysteries are his best work. Time has not decreased the interest in Sherlock Holmes, he is the subject of several televised series, the most recent and ongoing now in America is "Elementary" in which Chinese actress Lucy Lou plays Watson (!). Despite this accessory character change the TV series is quite popular, and so it is evidently correct to say Sherlock Holmes is the world's best detective.
Let us look into why Sir Arthur's Sherlock Holmes creation is so popular. There are four supporting characters who cleverly work to define and flesh out the Sherlock Holmes character. To begin with there is dear old Doctor Watson, Holmes's companion, assistant and chronicler. Medical Doctor John Hamish Watson is important mostly as a foil for Sherlock Holmes, and his medical knowledge is occasionally helpful. This is very clearly brought out in the Sherlock Holmes black and white movies featuring Basil Rathbone as Holmes, and Nigel Bruce as Watson.
In these films a bumbling Watson complains about trifles under his breath, and by making a bumbling fool of himself, perfectly sets off the brilliance and composure of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is fond of dear "old boy" and "good fellow" Watson, and likes explaining things to him, an excellent method of informing the reader. The friendship between these two very different men sets off and defines Holmes by contrast. Doctor Watson definitely helps define the Sherlock Holmes mystique to its advantage, and no doubt he is an important supporting character.
Then there is Mrs. Hudson, the sexless widow lady of Victorian time, who is landlord and housekeeper for Holmes and Watson. She prepares, serves and cleans up after hearty British meals of the age, and she also delivers messages, announces visitors, and generally makes herself useful to Holmes, in ways that are small but always helpful. Doctor Watson is very fond of her scones, all covered with melted butter and marmalade.
We must not forget Police Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, again an excellent foil for Sherlock Holmes. Lestrade is the typified policeman who though useful in a tough situation is otherwise incredibly unimaginative, and who although he doubts Holmes's abilities, is always calling him in on difficult cases. Holmes lets Lestrade take all the credit, elevating Holmes above the mass of ordinary mortals. Lestrade's lack of imagination borders on stupidity, and this plus his greed make him the perfect police foil for Sherlock Holmes.
There are numerous other carefully drawn characters, all typical of the Victorian age, but the only other one of importance is Professor James Moriarty, brilliant Master Criminal who is Holmes's nemesis and arch enemy, because Sherlock Holmes is constantly spoiling his brilliantly conceived and almost fully executed criminal plans. Moriarty is the perfect criminal foil for Sherlock Holmes; he kills without mercy, but only for profit, not for his pleasure. If Moriarty killed for his pleasure, he would be so far beneath Holmes morally that they could not compete on anything approaching an even match. Moriarty is clever and evil, but Holmes is even cleverer, and is of course good.
The conflict between Holmes and Moriarty is actually the interaction of good versus evil, and as such is a subject of eternally ongoing interest. The Sherlock Holmes stories are a type of morality play in which good brilliance triumphs over evil brilliance; they were written in the Victorian age, when the influence of nurture on nature was rarely considered, and criminals could expect a speedy trial and swift justice, which often took the form of the hangman's noose. There was no sympathy for criminals, and good always triumphed over evil.
Based on the foregoing we can list seven reasons for the ongoing popularity of Sherlock Holmes:
(1). He is admirable due to his very unusual powers of observation and logical deduction.
(2). He is admirable because always ready to provide help (if the case interests him, which it invariably does).
(3). He is admirable because he is always on the side of what is good, and against what is evil.
(4). He is admirable because the rich and famous give him large honorariums and praise,
(5). All the very cleverly constructed and presented characters and actions work together smoothly to define the Sherlock Holmes character's nature.
(6). The plots are always very cleverly designed, with well-hidden solutions that only Sherlock Holmes can find.
(7). The Sherlock Holmes stories and books are cleverly designed and executed morality plays, where good and evil do battle, and good always wins.
As with all morality plays their basic appeal will continue forever, or until either good or evil triumphs, or there are no people around to care either way. In my opinion all important literature deals basically, but in different formats, with the same theme of good versus evil. Sir Arthur was a highly skilled author who wrote very clever and very interesting stories on the universally popular theme of crime (evil) and justice (good). That is why his Sherlock Holmes crime detective mysteries are so popular.
Copyright © 2015 Phillip Duke Ph.D. all rights reserved.
All my Sherlock Holmes stories are written in the Victorian style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but with highly original plots. In "Jack The Ripper Versus Sherlock Holmes"http://Amazon.com/dp/B008BX0C2Y I am true to the horrific crimes of the Ripper, who murdered and mutilated female prostitutes; the autopsy photos and autopsy medical reports are included. The Ripper and Sherlock Holmes are products of the same Victorian age, and lived in the same city, London. It was inevitable that their paths would cross, and cross they do in this masterpiece of Ripper fact and Holmes fiction. With 32 illustrations.
In "Sherlock Holmes And the Child In Concrete http://Amazon.com/dp/B00O2OOHUO a concrete block is found with a girl child's head protruding, and Police Inspector Lestrade requires the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They investigate but there is no clue. Holmes knows there is only one man in England capable of this, and that is his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty. When other blue-eyed and blonde girl children begin disappearing, Holmes realizes that Moriarty has sent him a message; try and stop me if you dare. Holmes accepts the challenge and investigates, but bungles the case and believes all is lost. The next morning he and Watson employ a new, different method, it works and the case is solved! This is the most unusual of the Sherlock Holmes cases.
If you like reading really good detective murder mysteries, you will enjoy reading these ebooks, and my other Sherlock Holmes ebooks as well.
Good reading to you.
Phillip Duke Ph.D.
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