The Greatest Detective: A Look at Doyle's Infamous Hero, Sherlock Holmes Review
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The decision to write about the great detective is elementary, my dear reader. The time has finally come to talk of brilliance and the sharpest mind in literary history. I must admit, of all the Ishmaels and Sal Paradises in the written universe, the one character I have always been able to relate to—have always been fascinated by—is Sherlock Holmes. You may think you know every nuance of his character, from his odd hat, to his pipe to his relationship with a certain doctor of medicine, but there’s so much more...always there is more.

Holmes was born rather reluctantly from the mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887 in an intriguing novel called A Study in Scarlet. The story, though criticized by some, who thought Holmes too close in character to Poe’s detective, Dupin, was widely read and Holmes’s popularity with audiences soon grew. By 1892, however, Doyle had grown tired of his most famous creation and decided to kill him off in a story called The Final Problem, featuring Holmes’s arch-nemesis, the devious genius and Holmes’s intellectual match, professor Moriarty.

  
 
The public backlash was immediate, and Doyle soon accepted that audiences would not allow him to be so easily rid of their favourite character. He published The Hound of the Baskervilles soon after, a tale that takes place a year prior to Holmes’s death. Shortly thereafter, Doyle revived the detective in The Adventure of the Empty House, and from there he went on to write many further adventures.

I’ve been drawn to these books since grade school, when an aunt bought me a collection of some of the shorter stories. I’ve since read every single one of the detective’s many adventures (there are more than sixty in all), and still I re-read them whenever the chance allows. Why? I think the answer is pretty simple—not to mention similar to the reason why CSI is enjoying a long and successful run on TV—namely that people can’t get enough of the crime/ resolution process. (Let’s face it; Gil Grissom is little more than a modern version of Sherlock Holmes, after all).

The stories are told from the point-of-view of Holmes’s often-reluctant assistant and biographer, Dr. John Watson, M.D., a character based purely on Doyle himself (he was also a doctor of medicine who was knighted for his services to the British Empire during the Boer War). In Watson, Doyle created a character that readers were more apt to relate to, since Holmes’s own intellect was meant to be far superior to the average, or even educated, reader.

His abuse of cocaine makes him fallible, his love of music (the violin, though he plays it badly) makes him human, and his ability to analyze every situation using a superior logic (based in deductive reasoning) makes him intriguing to readers young and old. Essentially, Holmes is the perfect character, and the stories about him will undoubtedly continue to be read by generations to come.

The adventures are widely available in print, though I recommend purchasing a collection—if possible, a complete collection, since reading the stories can be highly addictive, and there’s nothing worse, speaking from experience, than realizing you’ve finished all of the stories you had in the house...and it’s raining and the library is closed.

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