WHAT ARE YOU READING?
He needs no further introduction. Even people who have never read a single story about the great Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes know who he is. Holmes never lived – he is, though there are some who are unware of this, a work of fiction – and yet he never dies. Sir Arthur wrote four novels and fifty-six stories about Mr Holmes and his adventures, and posterity has taken things from there. A steady stream of films. Several television series. More books, but, obviously, by writers not Conan Doyle. We have Sherlock young and Sherlock old. Sherlock as a child. Sherlock living not in the smog of 19th-century London but living in modern and even contemporary times. The world has changed almost beyond recognition since Holmes’ first appearance in 1887, but the sleuth and amateur violinist not has kept pace. The original stories are still popular, his fans are still legion.
There are things we turn to when times are difficult or stressful and all we want is a little comfort. For me some of the comfort things I return to often are a cup of tea, a bag of crisps, the box set of The Rockford Files, and Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes. I have at least two copies of the complete works. Sherlock is everything a good hero should be: brilliant, unique, reliable (in his way), an outsider despite his obvious pedigree and a man of principles and integrity in a society that doesn’t have an excessive amount of either of those qualities.
Just to think of Sherlock Holmes has me imagining myself curled up on the sofa oh a rainy afternoon with, perhaps, A Study in Scarlet or The Sign of Four, transported to Baker Street with a man who can make sense of the nonsensical. What could be more comforting than that?