The mystery of Sherlock Holmes
I may know less about Holmes and his creator than anyone else alive, but it seems to me significant that Doyle was interested throughout his life in mystical subjects, because that's where Holmes, the unparalleled observer, belongs. In today's terms, his props should be mask, cape, and colored tights, or maybe long beard and magic wand, rather than deerstalker and pipe.
But if Holmes was half machine ("He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen," Watson tells us in "A Scandal in Bohemia."), he was angst-ridden enough to serve as a precursor of noir fiction, and it's no shock that Hard Case Crime has reprinted a Doyle novel.
"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. " "He had risen out of his drug-created dreams ... " "Holmes ... remained in our lodgings in Baker Street, buried among his old books, and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition, the drowsiness of the drug, and the fierce energy of his own keen nature." Each of these is from the opening paragraphs of "A Scandal in Bohemia," first story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and each suggests Gothic horror more than it does rational crime solving. Maybe the stories are really about their era's nervousness about the progress of science and what this might do the emotional side of humanity.
Like I said, I know little about Holmes and his creator, but the gulf between the place the Holmes stories occupy in the public imagination on the one hand, and what is most interesting about the stories today on the other is ... a mystery.
© Peter Rozovsky 2015