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Showing posts by: Lyndsay Faye click to see Lyndsay Faye's profile
Mar 16 2017 12:00pm

Q&A with Lyndsay Faye, Author of The Whole Art of Detection

Lyndsay Faye is the author of five critically acclaimed books: Dust and Shadow, about Sherlock Holmes’s attempt to hunt down Jack the Ripper; The Gods of Gotham, which was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel; Seven for a Secret; The Fatal Flame; and Jane Steele. Her latest work is a collection of short stories called The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, out this month.

[Read the full Q&A below!]

Jan 4 2016 4:15pm

No Ghosts Need Apply: BBC Sherlock’s “The Abominable Bride”

It is a fairly widely known fact that I will watch practically anything relevant to Sherlock Holmes and walk away happier than I was previously, always excepting Rupert Everett and his pair of execrably brooding eyebrows in “The Case of the Silk Stocking.” (Each of them, both singly and at times even in concert, gave me cause for profound grief in that god-awful film.) So when I get served the heady talent mishmash of Benedict “High-Octane Hamlet” Cumberbatch and Martin “My Face Does Pony Tricks Ponies Never Dreamed Of” Freeman, not to mention a stellar supporting cast and a concept created by unrepentant card-carrying Doyle fanboys, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, I’m confident I’ll gobble the dish down.

However, this doesn’t, by any means, indicate there aren’t quality inconsistencies from episode to episode of the justly acclaimed BBC Sherlock series—even internally within each installment—and “The Abominable Bride” turns out to be no exception. Though, when taken altogether, “The Abominable Bride” turns out to be a rip-roaring Victorian romp destined to please far more viewers than it dismays.

[It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it...]

Oct 30 2015 4:00pm

A Study in Sherlock: Talking Holmes with Otto Penzler and Lyndsay Faye

When I moved to New York City, there were three mystery-centric bookshops still in operation—now that (tragically) only one remains, you have to assume Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop must be doing something right. All four of my novels were launched at his store, but I first got to know Otto by making the Sherlockian social rounds as a fellow Baker Street Irregular, which generally involves black tie attire and varying amounts of fine whiskey. Otto is not only the proprietor of a famous book store, a publisher, and a member of a venerable Sherlockian institution, however; he has also, incredibly, edited more than fifty crime fiction anthologies, which leads one to believe that if there were such a thing as the Emperor of Mystery Anthologies, we really ought to have crowned him by this time.

An avid fan of Sherlock Holmes from his first reading of the tales, Otto’s latest project is the hotly anticipated Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories, an assembly that is not merely enormous but meticulously selected by a gentleman who has probably read more Sherlockian pastiches than any other living human. I was honored to be included when he chose “The Case of Colonel Warburton’s Madness,” which was also selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2010. As a voracious reader of non-Doylean Sherlock Holmes mysteries myself, I was equally delighted to see such familiar names as Neil Gaiman, P. G. Wodehouse, Leslie S. Klinger, and the two Kings (Stephen and Laurie R.).

After being asked to interrogate Otto, I happily agreed, and picked his brain throughout the following week. In this interview, I ask about the stories he chose, his process, and why Sherlock Holmes inspires such an unholy number of loving imitators.

[Alright, on to it!]

Apr 10 2015 1:00pm

Strangers on a Train, Or When Sherlock Met Jane

In this most devoutly-to-be-wished encounter between two of fiction’s greatest detectives, the role of Miss Jane Marple is elaborated by Ashley Weaver, that of Mr. Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye. This is the first of a group of posts commemorating the 70th anniversary of Mystery Writers of America, an organization whose members have contributed this exclusive content for the celebratory delight of other crime fans.


Miss Jane Marple stood in the doorway of the dining car, adjusting herself for a moment to the movement of the train before following the kindly attendant to the only remaining seat. She would be dining with a stranger and had hoped for a bit of good conversation to pass the time. However, her first glance at the gentleman seated at her table was not encouraging. He did not look as though he would enjoy sharing a friendly meal. In fact, he did not look as though he enjoyed eating at all. Practically skin and bones, poor thing.

“Good evening,” she said, taking the seat across from him.


Mr. Sherlock Holmes’s steely eyes flicked upwards as a woman with hair snowy as goose down and a flushed, wrinkled face approached in the wake of the train attendant who obviously was fighting an internal war between genuine love of his two—no, three—daughters and a long-held fascination with wagering large sums on cockfighting. Though the dining car was entirely full, the detective had held hopes of dining (or failing to dine, as he intended, in favor of sipping a good brandy and marshalling his thoughts) alone; his mission to track the fugitive jewelry thief Aloysius Fawkesberry was at the behest of the Prime Minister himself.

The elderly lady sat and greeted him, smiling. Holmes bit back a sigh, wondering whether he would be asked to put out his cigarette.

“Good evening.”  His voice was cool but not uncourteous. “A gardener, I see by the speck of loam under your right forefinger, and by the woolen thread on your sleeve a knitter to boot.”

[The life unexamined is hardly worthwhile...]

Aug 30 2014 11:00am

Historical Crime Fiction: Writing the Lives of the Erased

Painting by artist Carole BremaudYou only live once. Right?

Chances are, unless you believe in reincarnation and are also peculiarly in touch with your past lives on this harsh and often beautiful planet, then your experience will be confined to one existence (never discounting the kindly tips you’ll pick up from friends and strangers).

Perhaps you are a 32-year old male Caucasian pickle magnate who is taste-testing the most perfect fermented vegetables ever to be jarred, and is on the cusp of driving all competitors out of the market? I’d like to hear your story. Equally possibly, you are a 57-year old female African American deep-sea submarine pilot, and are on the verge of retiring to your dream cottage in the West Indies? I’d adore that story too.

No matter who you are or how specific your experience, we all share in the deeply human desire to hear stories both foreign to ourselves in situation, and familiar in emotion.

You really felt that way, as a glamorous jewelry broker in the 1920s, doubting that your lover would stay?the modern real estate magnate thinks. Or, You really felt ostracized and hated when you arrived in America in the 1840s as a Catholic? the recent immigrant thinks. In any case, or every case, sharing anecdotes and feelings is valuable. But what of the people who weren’t glamorous, who weren’t posh or predictable—what of the people who never recorded their musings for posterity?

History is written by the victors, we are famously told. But so much of the joy in historical fiction lies in imagining what it would have been like to be that other person. The losing general, the girl who sat in the corner, the lad whose disability defined him, the criminal whose defense was never heard, the mother whose skin tone prevented her leaving a diary.

The erased, to put it simply.

[More about the ignored and excluded...]

Jun 10 2014 4:15pm

Slate Nailed It: YA and Detective Fiction Are for Rubes

An article in Slate by Ruth Graham that appeared last week decrying the popularity of YA fiction among adult readers has created quite the backlash from other media forums (including to name a few, Esquire, Flavorwire, CNN, and the Washington Post). While both sides of the issue—scholarly proponents of a higher culture of readership and hayseed YA apologists—have solid points to make, I was arrested by a particular portion of Graham’s article that I think proves her unquestionably correct. After stating with an almost visible squirm in her belly that she is “surrounded by YA-loving adults, both in real life and online,” a circumstance approximating that of being surrounded by clowns with blood on their razor-tipped teeth and which deserves the deepest sympathy from her readers, Graham produced a passage so telling, so profound, and so well-written, that I am honored to reproduce it here:

There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader. And if people are reading Eleanor & Park instead of watching Nashville or reading detective novels, so be it, I suppose. But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something.

Ruth Graham is right, and she expresses herself with heady eloquence on the subject. May I add before moving on to dissect the nuances of this argument, if people are reading The Secret Garden instead of Dark Places, then so be it, I suppose. If people are reading Paper Towns instead of The Name of the Rose, then let them, if they must. If people are reading Lord of the Flies instead of Bleak House, be it thusly, whatever. If people are reading A Ring of Endless Light instead of The Hound of the Baskervilles, thank God, or something. If people are reading Clifford the Big Red Dog instead of committing violent crimes, that’s better, I guess.

First, we are to understand that the “serious reader” does not truck with YA fiction—but if they do truck with YA fiction, at least they aren’t reading detective novels. Graham is correct, but let’s unpack this notion a bit further so that I can explain why her detractors have gone after straw men instead of comprehending the very valid point she is making:

[Nope, can't read “straw” without wanting to pick our teeth...]

Jan 26 2014 7:30pm

Sherlock Episode 3.03: “His Last Vow” Or I Married an Axe Murderer

We Sherlock Holmes fanatics are suckers for references (direct or indirect, even vague nods, some of us aren’t terribly picky) to the original stories. John Watson suffered one, possibly two, wounds in Afghanistan. Sherlock Holmes keeps tobacco in his Persian slipper. The dog in the nighttime was innocent of any wrongdoing—or action, for that matter. Sherlock Holmes is a jackass, but a jackass whom we love. He solves crimes, yes, but he also determines via the electric intuition of his own (and sometimes John Watson’s) conscience whether or not the criminal should be punished for the crime.  Examples, should one choose to doubt this assertion:

  • Is a father-in-law determined to carry on his false relationship with his daughter-by-marriage so he can keep her inheritance a man who deserves to horsewhipped?  (Holmes says: yes.)
  • Is a man who stole a goose for profit likely to go wrong again if you scare the trousers off his mealy little arse?  (Holmes says: no.)
  • Is a man who killed a wife-beater and sadist—a sadist who incidentally set his spouse’s dog on fire and killed it to teach her a lesson—guilty of murder when he murders that sadist in arguable self-defense?  (Holmes says: no.)

The Sherlock episode “His Last Vow” has absolutely everything to do with this issue of independent moral standing and justice execution.  I would argue that the extent to which the characters in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes justify their own questionable actions is very important, and I would likewise posit that nowhere is this conundrum better exemplified canonically than in “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.”

Sherlock Holmes greatly enjoys categorizing things. Tobacco ash, for a start.  Mud. The man is a virtuoso in mud studies. Probably also twigs. And pigeon feces. (I am merely extrapolating from known data, and should be clear this is unconfirmed in the canon—but Sherlock Holmes could probably glance at pigeon crap and determine the whereabouts of the bird’s last meal.) Additionally, however, he adores categorizing humans, and I sometimes wonder if he is so very deeply fond of John Watson because John Watson cannot ever be definitively categorized. The smartest men in London, the wickedest men in London, the most beautiful women and the most charitable of ugly men—Holmes has certain standards and systems, and he lives by these rules.

Charles Augustus Milverton? He is “the worst man in London.” The most nefarious, you might wonder, the organizer of half that is evil and nearly all that in undetected in the great metropolis?  No, that was James (or Jim, as the BBC would have him) Moriarty, with whom Holmes always shared a special something.

The worst man in London is another kettle of snakes.

Editor's note: Spoilers and slitherers ahead, you know.

[Hiss and slither on if you dare...]

Jan 19 2014 10:58pm

Sherlock Episode 3.01 “The Empty Hearse”

Sherlock and John in The Empty HearsOnce upon a time, a hero who feared losing everything—including those most dear to him, though such individuals were few and far between—died in order to bring down a criminal mastermind who had brought far too much evil into the world.  The hero was believed to have been defeated utterly by his friends, was duly mourned but never forgotten, and London life continued in all its glory and chaos.  The hero, meanwhile, descended (as heroes do) to the hellish underworld, where he was faced with many challenges along his path back to life and to redemption.  Eventually, however, after years of toil, the hero returned a changed man; and his companions rejoiced to have him back among the living, fighting the powers of darkness that beset innocent people once more.

Of course, all this happened in the year 1903.  Sherlock Holmes, a man for whom Sir Arthur Conan Doyle cherished about as much affection as he did for the clogged hair that accumulates in even the cleanest household drains, brought his world-famous detective back from the grave that year with the publication of “The Adventure of the Empty House.”  Previously, Doyle had waffled about with The Hound of the Baskervilles, claiming cattishly that Holmes wasn’t undead, he was merely starring in an earlier case, one which happened before that unfortunate incident in which a maths professor weighing about a buck twenty soaking wet nudged a martial artist and amateur boxing champion off a cliffside in Switzerland.

[Not the most dignified way for the man to go out...]

Jan 12 2014 6:00pm

Sherlock 3.02: “The Sign of Three,” One Wedding, Two Murders, and a Funeral

In a recent interview with Digital Spy writer Catherine Earp posted on the fifth of January, BBC Sherlock’s Martin Freeman is quoted as saying of the program, “No-one is a buffoon in it, and what I really like about it is that it’s writing for grown-ups, where you're not having to cheat the audience.  I’m purely trying to play this part the way I approach everything, which is to be truthful.  I was trying to make Watson a feasible soldier, a feasible doctor.  I wanted to give him a strength and a vulnerability.”

According to the vast majority of Sherlock’s fans—even those who find co-star Benedict Cumberbatch’s cold-blooded Sherlock Holmes a bit like dry ice on the palate from time to time—Freeman’s Dr. (or Captain, depending on your mood) John Hamish Watson is one of the most feasible, strong, and indeed vulnerable Watsons we’ve yet delighted in onscreen.  Those of us preoccupied by the original character as penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and I count myself “preoccupied” at levels approaching Captain Ahab’s enthusiasm for whales, if not quite Humbert Humbert’s interest in nymphettes) adore the Good Doctor for any number of reasons, of which kindness, bravery, and loyalty are but a few attributes nestled within a deliciously complex person.  He is a man who can bear insults with dignity and wit without ever being diminished by them, a man who can forgive his closest friend (those insults I mentioned? yep, they came from that dude) for faking his own death for a period of years, a man who can both shoot a spectral hound and help wean his best friend (that death thing and those insults I mentioned? same guy) off a drug habit that at one point threatens to “check his remarkable career.”

And it seems as if, at long last, BBC’s Sherlock Holmes is coming round to our view of the matter: John Watson is by far the best and bravest chap to wander the streets in plaid button-downs and avuncular pullovers.

Editor's note: There be episode spoilers ahead, laddies...

[Take me to the woolens and champagne...]

Sep 7 2013 10:00am

Holmes 2.0: Life in the New Sherlockian Renaissance

Issues of the Baker Street JournalI recently met a lovely woman. She was young, and attractive, and smiling, and redheaded—in short, she seemed perfectly normal.  After about five minutes, however, I’d identified that the object cradled in her lap was an issue of the Baker Street Journal—the unbelievably specific, scholarly publication devoted exclusively to essays about the Great Detective, the periodical that embodies Christopher Morley’s remark, “Never has so much been written by so many for so few.”

She had fooled me, this effortlessly groomed and seemingly sane woman. Like calls to like, however, and I saw through her charade. Like her, I enjoy summer dresses and kitten heels. Like her, I can pass for normal. But I’d contributed to the Baker Street Journal she was holding, for the love of tumblr and all its otters. We are both Sherlockians, hardcore full-frontal triple-X Sherlockians with journal subscriptions, masquerading as… well. 

As not-nerds.

We are not quite normal, we Sherlock Holmes fanatics, supposing normalcy exists. Of late, however, there are a lot of us. There are a very, very great many, in all shapes and sizes and colors and ages, and we daily gain recruits to our geekish hordes. Brainy, you could argue, is the new sexy. Which leads me to ask two questions.

Why now?  And why Holmes?

[Let your nerd flag fly!]

Feb 16 2013 12:00pm

Fresh Meat: Encounters of Sherlock Holmes, edited by George Mann

Encounters of Sherlock Holmes edited by George MannEncounters of Sherlock Holmes edited by George Mann is an anthology of short fiction featuring Sherlock himself in a variety of genres from steampunk to straight-up horror (available February 19, 2013).

When it comes to fiction, the crossover—blending or marrying two separate universes into a righteous narrative sandwich—is a curious affair. Especially, dare I say, for Sherlockians. Sherlockians make great hay of the crossover, and indeed, I have reaped such hay myself, in combining the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creations with that of the real Jack the Ripper murders in my first novel. As terrible or wonderful or incredible or outrageous or hamfisted or awesome as the idea in question might be, we cannot seem to help ourselves.

[That could be a good thing...or not...]

Nov 30 2012 9:30am

Upon the Clear Distinction Between Fandom and the Baker Street Irregulars

In light of the ever-expanding popularity of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries in conjunction with recent adaptations including the Warner Brothers films, the BBC series, and the CBS reimagining, it falls to me to discuss certain disturbing tendencies on the part of new devotees to refer to that venerable institution, the Baker Street Irregulars, as a “fandom” when it is actually a literary society. The youth of the Sherlockian world will be excused for making this dare I say elementary error, since the case for the distinction has not been hitherto laid out. Following the summation of this article, however, fans and traditional Sherlockians alike will have reached a much clearer understanding, and the unfortunate misnomer of referring to the present Irregulars as a “fandom” will doubtless cease and be swiftly forgotten.

(Note: for the purposes of this intellectual exercise, the possibility that the BSI may potentially be a storied and erudite literary society and a happily thriving fandom simultaneously will be ignored. This decision was made in light of the fact that a noun cannot be two things concurrently, the way the Empire State Building is not both a functioning office tower and a tourist destination, and the way Bill Clinton is not both a former president and a saxophone player. Arguments that the BSI is peopled by both cultured readers and by eager fans would only muddy the issue, and therefore will not be entertained here.)

[Clarification at last...]

Sep 26 2012 5:00pm

Elementary: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Police Procedural

First of all, I would like to make one thing perfectly clear. If you love CBS’s new crime drama Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson—if you adore it, and have already started making plushies resembling the co-stars and are considering relocation to a dilapidated Manhattan brownstone—then I applaud you and your taste in television. With all sincerity. I think you are wonderful, and I’d like to take you out for a pint. There is room for every new Sherlock Holmes to come down the pipeline; The Great Mouse Detective can coexist in the same world Sherlock Hound occupies, be their species ever so incompatible on paper. Sherlockians like watching new Sherlock Holmes adaptations, period, and we will continue to do so until a production so wholly embodies the detective and the doctor that lo, Paget’s illustrations will have sprung to heady life before our very eyes, and the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters will at last be recreated to definitive perfection.

But that day has not yet arrived, so we can move forward! (That is, if you're prepared for slightly spoiler-y comments on plot elements.)

[Fuggedabout it! Let's go already!]

Jun 11 2012 9:30am

It Wasn’t Lupus: A Sherlockian’s Farewell to House MD

It wasn’t lupus.From the day I started watching House MD on November 16, 2004, right up until this last month when the eighth (and final) season finished delicately extricating my heart with a dull ice cream scoop, the show has been a mainstay of my highly selective television viewing. Because, see, I don’t have a television. My husband and I have been without one for eight years now, preferring a projector screen for DVDs and the laptop for more casual fare, and House was the only program—literally solo contender—that was such consistently good programming that I have seen Every. Single. Episode. Bar none.

Well, that’s because I’m a Sherlockian, of course. But we’ll get to that. All in good time.

[Hmmm, whatever could she mean?]

May 17 2012 1:00pm

A Holmes Fan’s Mistrust of Elementary: An Open Apology to CBS

They Might Be Giants posteIn 1971, Universal Pictures produced a film titled They Might Be Giants starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward as, respectively, “Sherlock Holmes” and Dr. Mildred Watson, chronicling their adventures fighting crime in New York City. Sound familiar? But wait, it gets better. This Holmes is in fact a mental patient by the heroic name of Justin Playfair, whose life is in real danger due to his grasping elder brother’s attempt to usurp the family estate. When Dr. Watson is naturally seized upon as Playfair’s partner in imaginary mayhem, the pair gallivant about Manhattan fighting foes both real and illusory, all the while pretending to be the dynamic duo of the Victorian era.

But They Might Be Giants, for all its Sherlockian iconography, isn’t a Sherlock Holmes reimagining. In fact it’s a Don Quixote pastiche, and an admirable one—it’s about defying reality when reality is too grim or too dull or too heartbreaking, about falling in love with heroism and refusing to be told that the world no longer needs justice served up by brilliant vigilantes.

It takes Cervantes’s novel as its inspiration and delightfully tweaks it for a modern era.

It respects the spirit of the source material.

And that, makers of CBS’s Elementary, is why I must apologize to you for recent murmurs of Sherlockian pissiness. Because some of us fear you don’t get that principle. At all.

[But lest you think our hearts are barred. . .]

Mar 3 2012 10:00am

The Gods of Gotham: New Excerpt

Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay FayeAn excerpt from The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (available March 15, 2012).

1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams incinerate in a fire that devastates downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new “police force.” And he is less than thrilled that his new beat as a “copper star” is the the down-and-out Sixth Ward—at the border of Five Points, the world’s most notorious slum.

One night while making his rounds, Wilde literally runs into a little slip of a girl—a girl not more than ten years old—dashing through the dark in her nightshift . . . covered head to toe in blood.

Chapter 1

When I set down the initial report, sitting at my desk at the Tombs, I wrote:

On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped.

Of all the sordid trials a New York City policeman faces every day, you wouldn’t expect the one I loathe most to be paperwork. But it is. I get snakes down my spine just thinking about case files.

Police reports are meant to read “X killed Y by means of Z.” But facts without motives, without the story, are just road signs with all the letters worn off. Meaningless as blank tombstones. And I can’t bear reducing lives to the lowest of their statistics. Case notes give me the same parched-headed feeling I get after a night of badly made New England rum. There’s no room in the dry march of data to tell why people did bestial things—love or loathing, defense or greed. Or God, in this particular case, though I don’t suppose God was much pleased by it.

If He was watching. I was watching, and it didn’t please me any too keenly.

For instance, look what happens when I try to write an event from my childhood the way I’m required to write police reports:

In October 1826, in the hamlet of Greenwich Village, a fire broke out in a stable flush adjacent to the home of Timothy Wilde, his elder brother, Valentine Wilde, and his parents, Henry and Sarah; though the blaze started small, both of the adults were killed when the conflagration spread to the main house by means of a kerosene explosion.

I’m Timothy Wilde, and I’ll say right off, that tells you nothing. Nix. I’ve drawn pictures with charcoal all my life to busy my fingers, loosen the feeling of taut cord wrapped round my chest. A single sheet of butcher paper showing a gutted cottage with its blackened bones sticking out would tell you more than that sentence does.

But I’m getting better used to documenting crimes now that I wear the badge of a star police. And there are so many casualties in our local wars over God. I grant there must have been a time long ago when to call yourself a Catholic meant your bootprint was stamped on Protestant necks, but the passage of hundreds of years and a wide, wide ocean ought to have drowned that grudge between us, if anything could. Instead here I sit, penning a bloodbath. All those children, and not only the children, but grown Irish and Amer­icans and anyone ill-starred enough to be caught in the middle, and I only hope that writing it might go a way toward being a fit memo­rial. When I’ve spent enough ink, the sharp scratch of the specifics in my head will dull a little, I’m hoping. I’d assumed that the dry wooden smell of October, the shrewd way the wind twines into my coat sleeves now, would have begun erasing the nightmare of August by this time.

I was wrong. But I’ve been wrong about worse.

[Read the full excerpt of The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye]

Feb 29 2012 9:30am

The Good Doctor: Big and Small Screen Incarnations of Sherlock Holmes’s Better Half, Part 2

Watson poster of Jude Law for Sherlock Holmes the movie

Yesterday in Part 1, we examined three Watsons (speaking of which, did you catch The Two Watsons comic?), but there are more modern Watsons yet to peruse.

As I said when we began: this one’s for the lovers of brave soldiers, able medics, and steadfast friends. And here’s to John Watson, who flew that flag before it was cool. This one’s for the other half of the partnership: the narrator, the everyman turned superhero, the teller of tales, the conductor of light. Sláinte.

[Watsons, Watsons, everywhere...]

Feb 28 2012 11:00am

The Good Doctor: Big and Small Screen Incarnations of Sherlock Holmes’s Better Half, Part 1

Watson poster of Jude Law for Sherlock Holmes the movieHe emerges from a hellscape, bullet-pierced and feverish. Still game for trouble and drawn to the dangers that lurk in the dark. He survived a war-torn desert by the very skin of his teeth, and all the while he was engaged at healing. The perennial paradox of the Army doctor, giving life and taking it, all in the name of honor. When he arrived in London “worn with pain, and weak from the prolonged hardships” he had undergone, with “neither kith nor kin in England, and…therefore free as air,” he found himself bored. Shaken. In financial trouble and spiritual turmoil.

Then Dr. John H. Watson, MD, meets Mr. Sherlock Holmes. So it all works out for the best. Particularly for us: admirers of the fabled pair, and readers grateful for Watson’s efforts with a pen and a service revolver. 

Here’s to the lovers of brave soldiers, able medics, and steadfast friends. This one’s for you.  And here’s to John Watson, who flew that flag before it was cool. This one’s for the other half of the partnership: the narrator, the everyman turned superhero, the teller of tales, the conductor of light. Sláinte.

[And to the men who have portrayed him...let’s raise a glass!]

Jan 17 2012 9:30am

Sherlock:“The Reichenbach Fall” and The Hero’s Free Tour of the Underworld

Sherlock fades as Moriarty rises

In December of 1893, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was guilty of the premeditated and willful murder of Mr. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, a consulting detective of some public renown. “I have had such an overdose of [Holmes] that I feel towards him as I do toward pâté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day,” he had said previously. He wasn’t just whistling Dixie. In a reader response famed for its brevity and the universality of the sentiment among Victorian fans, “You brute,” a woman penned to the author, whose greater work—he imagined—was unfairly shackled to Holmes.

(Perhaps unfairly, SPOILERS abound for those daring to read on.)

The suggestion that people wore mourning bands in the streets to honor the fallen character may be apocryphal. But if I had a mourning band, I’d likely be sporting it today. So maybe it isn’t. And the Strand Magazine did lose approximately 20,000 subscriptions.

“You brutes,” I now address Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, creators of BBC’s hit series Sherlock. But “brutes” as in the High and Holy Poobahs of Most Excellent, Thoughtful, Affecting, and Generally Heart-Incinerating Creators of Dramatic Television Content, Department of Ferocious Winning. Just to be clear.

[—Crystal. Go on!]