For those of you who were linked here through the title of my blog post, let me start by apologizing. I’ve misled you. There’s no way I can explain in a single blog post all the reasons I love Sherlock Holmes. Where can I even begin?
I crave for mental exaltation.
The Sign of the Four (SIGN)
You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.
“A Scandal in Bohemia” (SCAN)
There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (BOSC)
There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you.
The Hound of the Baskervilles (HOUN)
Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.
“The Red Circle” (REDC)
Come at once if convenient—if inconvenient come all the same.
“The Adventure of the Creeping Man” (CREE)
Gems—gems everywhere! Most mysteries turn stale after the first read. But the Sherlock Holmes tales reward every visit.
“I am inclined to think — ” said I.
“I should do so,” Sherlock Holmes remarked impatiently.
…“Really, Holmes,” said I severely, “you are a little trying at times.”
Valley of Fear (VALL)
But for me perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of the Canon is the long shadows it casts. There are 60 Holmes tales in all (56 short stories and 4 novels), and in these…
1. Irene Adler, the woman, appears only once.*
2. Professor Moriarty, the arch nemesis of Holmes, appears only twice.*
3. Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s elder—and smarter—brother, appears only thrice.*
4. The Baker Street Irregulars, the band of street urchins whom Holmes sometimes hires, officially appear only thrice.*
5. The deerstalker cap, perhaps the most famous accessory of Holmes, never explicitly appears.
Sidney Paget, the first major illustrator of the stories, shows Holmes with this cap only twice.*
6. “Elementary,” the famous explanation of Holmes, appears only once*—and never as “Elementary, my dear Watson.”
(This line was actually popularized from the first sound film of Sherlock Holmes, 1929’s The Return of Sherlock Holmes—much like Gone with the Wind’s most famous line never found in the book: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”)
See what I’m getting at? These small seeds plant forests in the minds of Holmes fans. Think of it: Sherlock Holmes is the most depicted person in all of film, at 254 times (beaten only by the non-human Dracula, at 272 times).
It’s as if mere proximity to Sherlock Holmes can expand one’s imagination.
So you see, writing a 500 word blog post that captures the greatness of Sherlock Holmes is simply impossible. Everywhere one looks his shadow is cast, coloring the world. But thanks anyway for humoring me in my attempt. As Holmes says, “Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.”**
As for your own reading, now that I’ve given you a taste, it’s time to visit (or revisit!) the tales of Sherlock Holmes. As Holmes says in The Sign of the Four: “You know my methods. Apply them.”
*1: “A Scandal in Bohemia” (SCAN).
*2: “The Final Problem” (FINA) and Valley of Fear (VALL). Though he is directly mentioned in 5 other tales.
*3: “The Greek Interpreter” (GREE), “The Final Problem” (FINA), and “The Bruce-Partington Plans” (BRUC). He is also mentioned in “The Empty House” (EMPT).
*4: A Study in Scarlet (STUD), The Sign of the Four (SIGN), and “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” (CROO)
*5: “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” (BOSC) and “Silver Blaze” (SILV).
*6: “The Crooked Man” (CROO).
**: “The Silver Blaze” (SILV).