“Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.” The Copper Beeches, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Deciding which book to read next was actually surprisingly easy. You may or may not have heard of a little movie that was released during the holiday season…a couple of big name stars, a modern day update of a literary classic. After Christmas, my sister, brother and I decided to have a night out in honour of my mom and to celebrate her love of Sherlock Holmes. One cold evening we (Michelle, Donovan, Brock, MaryAnn and I) enjoyed dinner at a local pub and raised our glasses to mom. We then headed to the theatre, bought our tickets and popcorn, sat back and enjoyed Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes.
Again, I will admit, I had never read the legendary Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books. Michelle and Brock had both read the books. In fact a few years ago Brock purchased a beautiful, special edition book which compiled the complete works of Sherlock Holmes for my mom. My mom knew about the movie and was intrigued to see how it would turn out. It was great.
Robert Downey Jr. was awesome, who can resist him? I had no idea if this was an accurate portrayal of the legendary character? Michelle and Brock assured me that the movie did capture the true essence of the books. So, I decided that if the books were as enjoyable as the movie then I had to give them a try.
My mom’s love of Sherlock Holmes did not end with reading the books. Her PVR was jam packed with Holmes episodes. She really had little time for “regular” television. Her television watching was consumed, not surprisingly, with mysteries. My mother recorded and watched every mystery program available. In fact her friends would call her and let her know when shows were coming on so she wouldn’t miss them! She never did. From Agatha Christie and Holmes to Rosemary & Thyme and Murdoch Mysteries…mom recorded them all. She even got into Murder She Wrote…although we had watched all the original shows way back in the eighties. Holmes was a popular choice on television, she loved watching those programs.
I decided to start at the first in Doyle’s series “The Valley of Fear”. This novel was quite interesting. The first half of the book dealt with solving the case at hand, while the second half of the book explored the life of the victim prior to the crime. It was as though Doyle wrote two different books and put them together. This was not at all what I had expected.
As for the characters Holmes and Watson, I adore them. Doyle’s writing is wonderfully timeless…passive aggressiveness never goes out of fashion. The interaction between the two old friends had me laughing out loud many, many times.
The second book I read was “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”. This novel contains a series of short stories, quick mysteries. The stories include “The Red-Headed League”, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. I soon realized that for Holmes it wasn’t the crime per se that motivated him it was his primal desire to solve the puzzle. Many times he didn’t care if the criminal was brought to justice, rather Holmes was only satisfied if he used logic to reach an adequate resolution. As for Watson, if he applied his keen observation skills to the case at hand, rather than to Holmes, he too could have been a master detective. However, without his keen attention to detail, we wouldn’t have the descriptive narrative that makes these novels what they are.
I can totally understand why my mom was delighted by these books and television programs. The cases are not always gripping, grim and grotesque; in fact sometimes they are quite mundane. However, the enjoyment comes from the relationships, the dialogue and the great mind of Holmes…I suppose the genius of Doyle.
I wish my mom could have joined us on that cold night in January. She would have enjoyed the food, the wine, the company and the movie.