My Love Affair with Sherlock Holmes

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I used to say that my love of mysteries began with Nancy Drew. I had several books in that series, bought as presents for Christmas or my birthday and I did enjoy them very much. I don't know where those books went; they were probably tossed in the trash at some point, worn out and no longer wanted when I moved on to science fiction. I do know that I bought reprints by Applewood Books that kept the original, politically incorrect text some years back and reread "The Secret of the Old Clock". My memories of Nancy, the dauntless heroine, were better than the actual books.

Not so for Sherlock Holmes. I usually listen to the radio to go to sleep but last night the talk show topic didn't appeal to me. But I did have several CDs of old radio programs that I'd downloaded off the web and burned so I could play them on my bedside radio/CD player. And I picked the classic The Adventure of the Speckled Band with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. I never get tired of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's consulting detective and particularly don't get tired of Rathbone and Bruce.

I know that purists don't particularly care for the portrayals they did, but, for me, they will always be Holmes and Watson, probably as a result of watching too many black and white movies late at night on a snowy television screen when I was growing up. I had a hard time watching the Jeremy Bret versions of the stories, despite these being the favorite of many people.

Last year, a new BBC series, called simply Sherlock, made its way to PBS stations in America. I was skeptical at first. How dare they meddle with the classics in such a way! But I was immediately captivated by this new take on an old friend. The update was marvelous, albeit somewhat tongue in cheek. I'm thrilled that there will be three more episodes, not so thrilled that I'll have to wait until the end of the year to see them.

And when thinking about what I wanted for my birthday this year, I immediately put "The Sherlockian" at the top of my list. Then there's "The Murder Room". I can't seem to get enough of Sherlock Holmes. He shows up everywhere. I'm tempted to re-read Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" because Mike, who named himself after Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's smarter brother, is such a wonderful character.

Obviously I'm not the only one who loves Sherlock Holmes. Over and over again we find new ways to tell his stories or use them as the jumping off point for new ones. I can only wish that some day I'll create a character as memorable and beloved as Sherlock Holmes.

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