An Imperfect Hero: My Life, My Disability, and Sherlock Holmes

I don’t think about it all that much, the intersection of my disability and my love of Sherlock Holmes. I’m a permanently-disabled person; my physical disability goes with me and is part of me, wherever I go and whatever I do. These days, I’m so used to the idea of Sherlock Holmes as a positive coping mechanism that I hardly even stop to think about the magic of it all any more–the magic of the way a fictional detective joined me on my journey one day, jumping into the landscape of my life and making himself at home.

I met Holmes as a preteen, but I truly fell in love with him as a character right in the middle of the period that I think of as my “Crohn’s Decade.” I was a distance-learning college student in my mid-20s, trying to make sense of an incurable disease and physical limitations my doctors couldn’t solve. In contrast, Sherlock Holmes was the ultimate solver. He might make mistakes on occasion, but for the vast majority of the 60 canonical stories, he’s at the top of his game. I could get lost in a story like “The Copper Beeches” and know that it was all going to come out right in the end. Holmes would figure it out. Even if no one could figure me out, I had a place to go where everything made sense.

Alongside my health issues came mental ones, exacerbated by the physical challenges I faced. I’m clinically obsessive-compulsive. I’ve had intermittent bouts of major depression, and I have an anxiety disorder. At times, along the way, I’ve felt like an alien trying to survive in a world where I don’t seem to fit, an outsider looking in. You know who else is an outsider? The world’s only consulting detective. Never once has Sherlock Holmes made me feel alienated; in fact, the celebration of Holmes’s uniqueness in the Doyle Canon, his difference from the norm, has helped me to look at my own personality with a gentler eye. I might never reach Watsonian or Lestrade-like levels of societal acceptability. I might never be able to conform to what is expected of me or reach the social normalcy I sometimes seek, but neither does Sherlock Holmes. He’s an iconoclastic, self-directed character, and he’s not always happy, either. He has good days and (very) bad days. The point is, he’s always uncompromisingly himself. His radical self-acceptance is an ongoing challenge in my quest to reach my own.

Finally, Holmes’s character arc of defeat and triumph has served as a highly personal inspiration for me through the darkest time in my life, my cancer fight that resulted in a permanent ileostomy and other challenging physical complications. As a Christian, I often look to the Bible, and Micah 7:8 makes me think of Holmes: “Do not rejoice against me, O my enemy, for though I fall, I will rise again!” To defeat his enemy, Holmes takes the classical journey to the underworld, dying to the life he once had, but ultimately emerging stronger and more victorious than he could have ever imagined. I love Doyle’s resurrection story “The Empty House” less for its character reunions, though they’re marvelous, and much more for the fact that Holmes re-emerges in a blaze of glory, solving a locked room mystery and taking down his remaining nemesis without, it seems, breaking much of a sweat. I’ve never confronted the likes of Moriarty at the Falls or Colonel Moran with an air gun, but I know what it is to confront my deepest fears and to emerge from the crucible of suffering with a greater determination and will to not only survive, but to transcend. Through Holmes I’m reminded that my Reichenbach is not the end; it’s only the beginning. Though I fall, like Holmes, I will rise again.

I don’t have much patience for those who dismiss fandom as a silly thing or a little thing, who fail to grasp that stories have power to change our lives and bring us hope. Even after years of frantic Holmesian cultural zeitgeist, I still constantly see people posing the question–why is Holmes so popular? Why do we still love him so very much? I can’t answer that for everyone, just myself. He started out as an imaginary friend in my childhood, but later he became an integral part of understanding and coping with my personal disability, helping me to process and accept the daily challenges that shape my life and my identity. He’s a man who solves what can’t be solved, but at the same time is never quite solved himself. He’s a hero who transcends death, and he does it without ever being the stereotypical shining knight on a white steed. He’s a deeply imperfect man who accomplishes an uncommon thing.

Sometimes, when I’m feeling very courageous, I even aspire to follow in his footsteps

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How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TV Review/First Impression: Mystery Queen

(This review was originally written for the Baker Street Babes and can be found on our site here.)

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(This will be spoiler-free for major mysteries and plot points beyond the setup)

Mystery Queen (Queen of Mystery) is 2017’s newest contribution to the ongoing Sherlock Holmes zeitgeist. Produced by South Korea’s Public Broadcasting network (KBS, aired on KBS2), it’s far from being a rehash of familiar territory. Instead, it breaks new ground with a smile, a wink, and a refreshingly self-deprecating tone.

The opening episode wastes no time whatsoever in introducing the key players, beginning with an impressive action piece in which we see both the street smarts and physical prowess of our Watson (Wan-seung), played with rough charm by veteran star Kwon Sang-woo. Any fight that includes our hero breaking a clay flowerpot into a perp’s face is one I can get behind, and I particularly like the visceral quality of the action throughout the episode. This no pretty, choreographed martial arts-style combat. It’s about fists and survival.

In contrast, we’re subsequently introduced to our lady Sherlock (Seol-ok) through what appears to be a mundane instance in which a shopkeeper can’t figure out who is stealing from her, while the police refuse to take her seriously. In a sequence reminiscent of any number of Doyle’s Holmes stories, Seol-ok uses clues and security footage to put together a string of clever deductions that lead straight to the solution to the mystery. Played by Choi Kang-hee (one of my all-time favorite Korean actresses), this middle-aged, married female Holmes bears all the hallmarks of the character we love–she’s whip-smart, nonconformist, eccentric, and socially unusual. (Case in point: In oblivious Holmesian fashion, after solving this initial mystery, she asks the shopkeeper for a discount–apparently missing the ample social cues that indicate the woman is processing the personal emotional implications of what Seol-ok has just uncovered.)

Our third major player also comes into the picture during our convenience store case, the Inspector Lestrade character (Chief Hong), played by Lee Won-keun. The youngest Lestrade adaptation I’ve seen on screen to date, Chief Hong has an endearing younger-brother relationship with Seol-ok, whom he calls Seonsaengnim (a Korean title used for a respected mentor) . We are quickly shown that he’s risen to being precinct chief at an unusually young age, mostly because she’s been helping him solve difficult and perplexing cases for quite a while. Hong is no idiot, but he lacks Seol-ok’s speed of thought and ability to connect unusual clues. In this iteration, however, he’s humble enough to willingly look to the person who has the skills he lacks.

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The episode’s central mystery, one with higher stakes that potentially sets up a series arc, is presented in a visually-engaging way by showing various characters’ different mental constructs of how the crime was  committed. As clues are added and theories are refined, we see the changes reflected in these psychological reconstructions. Overused, this could be annoying, but in this episode, it’s relied upon sparingly and simply serves as a way to show rather than just telling, and it’s a welcome technique.

Mystery Queen is not a strictly procedural mystery show. The above is simply the setup, and as the story is fleshed out, it’s clear that we’ll be delving into the mysteries of our characters’ lives as much as the crimes they solve. Seol-ok is the wife of an absent prosecutor and daughter-in-law to his domineering, social-climbing mother. For years, she’s harbored a dream to become a police detective (and has the skills to pass the test) but has deferred her dream to further her husband’s career. Our closest equivalent to Mrs. Hudson is Seol-ok’s best friend, divorced chef Kyung-mi. Some of the episode’s strongest moments are between the two women, who have painfully honest conversations about love, marriage, and divorce. Their friendship, and the struggles they share, takes a charming series and provides it with emotional weight.

I’ve covered quite a bit of ground, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning that the series contains a hefty dose of comedy. It’s not a constant slapstick-fest, and it has plenty of dramatic moments, but the overall tone is light. I find that particularly refreshing after the slew of extremely serious and self-important Holmes adaptations that have come out in recent years. I love larger-than-life, superhero Holmes. I also love a Holmes who’s just trying her level best to keep her nosy relatives from finding out that she’s a super sleuth on the side. An added dollop of elderly ladies who lunch and do their own version of detective work is particularly hilarious.

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Culturally speaking, Mystery Queen contains enough recognizable nods to Doyle’s Holmes that even viewers who are not aficionados of KDrama should be able to enjoy it and make it through some unfamiliar cultural territory. Thus far, the most jarring aspect for viewers from more individualistically-inclined cultures, I think, will be Seol-ok’s home situation. Simply, going into it with the understanding that in-laws are treated like immediate family and that social structure dictates a high level of respect for and obedience to family and societal elders would be helpful.

I’m pleasantly surprised by Mystery Queen. It’s funny, it’s quirky, it’s intelligent, and it re-adapts characters I know and love in familiar but fresh ways. Even more than that, as a feminist, I’m delighted to finally find a series that introduces a female Holmes with a realistic life. She’s brilliant, and she’s odd. As many brilliant and unusual women have found, society doesn’t usually reward those who choose to walk a different path. It would have been easy to give Seol-ok an easier life, to make her single, fabulously wealthy, and able to do whatever she wants. Instead, the writers of Mystery Queen have given us a far more complex gift, a woman with the mind of Sherlock Holmes and a life that looks a whole lot like that of many women around the world. Seol-ok is no superhero. She’s a real-life woman trying to juggle her talents and society’s expectations, and sometimes that’s even better.

Mystery Queen (Queen of Mystery) airs on KBS2 on Wednesday and Thursday nights at 10:00p.m. and will run for 16 episodes (barring an extension, which would be announced later).

It can be viewed with English subtitles at Viki and Dramafever.

(The above review was not sponsored, and all opinions expressed are the reviewer’s own.)

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How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

Sherlock Review: The Six Thatchers

This review was originally written for the Baker Street Babes, and I’m sharing it here. It can also be found here on the BSB website.

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WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR “THE SIX THATCHERS.”

One year from “The Abominable Bride.” Nearly three from the last regular-season-order episode “His Last Vow.” The combination of seemingly-interminable hiatus, international build, and a fandom given to painstaking analysis means that “The Six Thatchers” came onto screens less like a single episode of a mystery series and more like the receptacle of the collective weight of metric tons of expectations.

The question is: Did it deliver?

The answer is a complicated yes and no and maybe. I’ll delve into all three, in an effort to make a complicated episode (and the complicated opinions of members of our podcast) into something coherent.

First of all, what delivered? Without a doubt, the core cast of Sherlock is one of the finest in the business and perhaps one of the best ensembles that has ever graced television screens. With his usual sharp precision, Benedict Cumberbatch settled into the role of a Sherlock Holmes who is on edge but still completely recognizable as the established character. His rapid-fire deductions during the case montage were as entertaining as ever, and his smugness when he tracked Mary’s location and confronted her was a wonderful cheeky moment. Even more enthralling, in my opinion, were his razor-edge interactions with Mark Gatiss’s phenomenal interpretation of Mycroft, one of the only characters who is consistently able to unsettle our hero and bring his vulnerable side forward. Rupert Graves’s Lestrade, Louise Brealey’s Molly, and Una Stubbs’s Mrs. Hudson were all on point, though not extremely prominent in this episode. (We hope for more of them in the coming weeks.)

When all is said and done, though, the acting plaudits for this episode belong most of all to Amanda Abbington and Martin Freeman. Freeman’s Watson is, as always, a multi-layered man with a seemingly-simple facade that overlays a world of emotion and passion. The final scenes, of course, have pulled a great deal of focus from the rest of the episode, but Freeman plays the earlier scenes of the quiet desperation of a new father losing touch with his wife and experiencing the temptation of another woman with piercing vulnerability. He’s an actor who never settles for the comfortable version, and he forcibly compels the audience to feel his internal conflicts. Abbington, in her swan song on the show, plays a Mary whose past has finally caught up with her. We watch her, like a hunted animal, run from the inescapable, and she’s mesmerizing on screen. Even in scenes that, as plot points, I didn’t care for, I found her screen presence enthralling. Her Mary is by turns brittle, sweet, funny, and finally desperate. In the end, she made me care. As Babe Ashley Polasek says in our reaction episode, even though she didn’t particularly enjoy how the episode arrived at it, Mary’s death made her cry. It was just that well-played. The chemistry between Freeman and Abbington as John and Mary wasn’t so much tender as brutal, and when they finally said goodbye, their pain mingled into something almost unbearable to watch in its intensity.

I’d also be remiss in not mentioning the wonderful direction of Rachel Talalay, new to Sherlock, but veteran of hits like Doctor Who and The Flash. Her deft hand brought atmosphere, style, and beauty to the episode and made some very complicated sequences work and retain visual coherence. “The Six Thatchers” has a gorgeously operatic quality, and the bold images of the aquarium, the stark simplicity of Mycroft’s office, and the richness of the foreign settings created a feast for the eyes.

Finally, the episode had many brilliant references to the Doyle Canon and the world of pastiche. Most prominently, the overarching plot was a very high concept take on The Sign of Four, in which the Agra treasure that should belong to Mary Morstan is lost at sea. As a part of AGRA herself, Sherlock‘s Mary meets her demise under water (in the London aquarium). Seen as a unit, “His Last Vow” and “The Six Thatchers” play out the story arc of the novel. Additionally, the concept of six busts of a historical figure being destroyed is a reference to “The Six Napoleons,” one of Doyle’s stories, which has the solution that Sherlock expects in the episode–the missing Black Pearl of the Borgias. When Mary takes her around-the-world jaunt, each disguise is a reference to a Canon case or disguise Holmes used. A more emotional reference is the use of “Norbury,” a name in the episode, but a place in Doyle’s story “The Yellow Face.” In both cases, Holmes makes an error in judgment, and the word “Norbury” comes to symbolize his own awareness of his tendency toward hubris. Of course, Mary’s death is Canonical as well; after the Great Hiatus, Watson mentions that he’s lost her, but he doesn’t specify how. Acclaimed pastiche author Nicholas Meyer also received a direct shout-out in the episode, through the title “The Canary Trainer,” one of his books. (The showrunners enjoy referencing Meyer; they referred to his most famous Sherlockian work, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, in “The Abominable Bride.”)

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Unfortunately, alongside these brilliant elements, other aspects of the episode didn’t quite work as I’d hoped. I could come at this from several angles, but since this review is already getting long, I’ll try to keep it concise. If you listen to our upcoming reaction podcast, you’ll hear that we had strong criticism of the plot of “The Six Thatchers” and of the implications of what it means for the future of the series.

First, taking the plot alone. It was meta. (I’m not even sure meta is a strong enough word for how self-referential it was). We in the Babes enjoy a bit of meta, and for the most part, we were big fans of “The Abominable Bride,” which was about as meta as you can get–or so we thought. The problem is, at least partially, a context issue. A one-off Christmas episode can take a mind-palace trip that shows us Victorian versions of our beloved characters and dissects their psychology. By placing them back in their original contexts it bought the collateral necessary to get away with it. That is most definitely not the context we find ourselves in with “The Six Thatchers.” We’re back in the “real world” with our modern heroes and their daily jobs and problems. But apart from very brief deductive montages, we didn’t have an episode of Sherlock Holmes being Sherlock Holmes, solving cases, being a detective. We were almost entirely in navel-gazing territory, where the characters’ problems were almost entirely created by themselves. At some point, if Holmes spends most of his time solving problems created by or primarily involving him (the ending of the ep) and his friends (most of the rest of it), there’s a curiously claustrophobic and inward feeling to the action. Even as it goes global, it feels small, smaller than it should.

This episode also asked viewers to accept the idea that John Watson, a character whose loyalty to his friends and loved ones has been his primary trait in the series thus far, is carrying on a late-night extramarital flirtation while his new baby cries in the next room. Three-Continents Watson might be flattered by a woman’s attention on a train; the man we know and love, however, would not let it go beyond that. He’s not perfect, but nothing in the series or the source material paints him as anything other than a faithful partner. I understand the plot’s reason for this–the fact that Watson’s anger at Holmes after Mary’s death is projected anger at himself. That’s possibly the biggest problem. It feels like John’s actions served the plot, rather than the other way around.

Finally, as enjoyable as it was to watch Mary traveling the world as different characters (and it was great fun), it was all a bit much. Sherlock has always had a heightened quality, but it’s anchored in reality. The international espionage elements of “The Six Thatchers” didn’t feel in any sense anchored in reality, and the previous episode it called to mind, in our opinion, was “The Blind Banker,” which also struggled with feeling a bit ridiculous for similar reasons. (Don’t get me wrong; as with this episode, there are aspects of “The Blind Banker” we greatly enjoy, but along with many fans, we consider it one of the weakest of the series.) This criticism has nothing to do with the stellar performances. In fact, if this is Amanda’s James Bond audition, we heartily support her being cast as the first International Woman of Mystery.

In a more general sense, we’re concerned about what this episode says about this show’s trajectory. Sherlock has always been a show about a detective, rather than a detective show; that’s a given. One of the main things that drew us in at the beginning was the side-by-side interplay of what we learn about the man through the mysteries he solves. Memorable moments like Watson yelling about Holmes’s lack of care, Holmes asking whether something is “not good,” and the heart-shattering moment of the Reichenbach Fall were all wonderfully poignant character moments, but those moments were earned by being integral parts of the mysteries the episodes and seasons presented. Once those mysteries fall away, the series becomes nothing but a very heightened show about the relationships between an extremely small group of people. “The Six Thatchers” was phenomenally acted, but in the end, the primary story wasn’t much of a mystery at all.

If we take Sherlock Holmes out of his time, that’s fine. If, as in TAB, we put him back in his time and change up the focus of his story, also fine. What concerns us most is this episode seemingly trying to do both–giving us the modern Holmes of most of Sherlock (obviously), but failing to give him back his primary function as a solver of mysteries. Additionally, by placing such a huge rift between Holmes and Watson, while taking Watson somewhat out of character, the show has also endangered the primary relationship of the source material, the core friendship between the detective and his doctor. Holmes alone is not the Holmes we know and love; he’s diminished. To be fully realized as a character, he needs his Boswell (or blogger).

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Let’s finish up on the maybe question. We don’t know what’s coming in the rest of this series of Sherlock beyond general information, and it’s possible we may end up with a different view of “The Six Thatchers” by the end. The Moriarty question still looms over the show, and one of our criticisms in this episode was that it didn’t link Sherlock’s ongoing obsession with any tangible clues. We may find later, however, that it dropped clues we didn’t grasp. Also, if the resolution of the Holmes-Watson rift is strong enough, we may look back and find that the conflict was worth it, or at least less troubling. More than anything, if the next episodes return to tightly-plotted mystery with clues and deduction, we’ll be very grateful, because while we love the characters of Sherlock dearly, what we love most is learning about them while they do the work of solving mysteries in the world around them.

I’ve now seen “The Six Thatchers” three times, and I thoroughly enjoyed each viewing. Even when, in our opinion, Sherlock isn’t quite firing on all cylinders, it’s still very good television with excellent production values. Though not our favorite in terms of story, this season opener will live on in our minds for its beautiful visuals and stunning performances, and we will miss Amanda Abbington’s presence. Criticism aside, she made Mary vibrant and alive and wonderful, and we won’t forget her or what she added to the world of the show.


How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

Book Review: The Twisted Blackmailer by T.L. Garrison


I’ll admit it: This book had me at the revelation that the high school-aged narrator’s locker was 221A, meaning, of course, that the new girl, Sherlock Holmes, would soon take possession of locker 221B.

Garrison isn’t the first author to craft feminine versions of Holmes and Watson or to write about Holmes’s younger years, but The Twisted Blackmailer is one of the best-written books I’ve encountered in the genre. As you might have tracked from the comment about lockers, the book also takes place in the modern world. Since the advent of modernized Holmes on TV, this isn’t a particularly difficult concept to take on board, particularly since Garrison’s characterizations are spot on.

Canon aficionados might have guessed from the title that the story riffs off Doyle’s Milverton case. This book takes its own twists and turns and is inspired by the original rather than being imprisoned by it.

Particularly enjoyable is Watson’s sardonic practicality and literal narrative style that sometimes seems to reveal more than the narrator intends. That’s a difficult thing to achieve, but Garrison manages it seamlessly.
If you decide to give this book a try, don’t be afraid that you’ll miss the Sherlock Holmes we know and love. Our favorite detective may be a girl in the modern world, but the essential Sherlock Holmes is lovingly present on each page – maddening, endearing, hilarious, and brilliant.
Alternate universes can go terribly wrong or very, very right. Garrison has begun crafting an enjoyable Sherlockian AU that I’ll be excited to visit many times in the future. (Twisted Blackmailer is Book 1 of a planned series.)
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go to high school with Sherlock Holmes, this is certainly the book for you. If you’re leery of non-traditional approaches, don’t be put off. The Twisted Blackmailer is a beautifully-written book that tells an engaging mystery story involving a Holmes and Watson who are as irresistible a duo as ever, while teasing upcoming mysteries for future stories to solve. Hard to put down, and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Paperback available here

Available for e-purchase here
The above-reviewed work was provided for consideration by the publisher. All opinions expressed are the reviewer’s own.

How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

My Friend Holmes

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For several years now, I’ve been writing regularly about Sherlock Holmes, more than I’ve ever written about anyone else. That means that he (and Irene Adler, the co-protagonist of my novels) lives in my brain in a way that few characters, if any, ever have.

I’m currently in the editing process of my fourth Sherlockian mystery novel, but what many people don’t know is that I wrote the first draft of it while I was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. For a while each day, I escaped the pain, fatigue, and depression the drugs caused by jumping into Holmes’s world and walking with him. He was my companion in the cancer center and a friend who helped me through some very dark days.

Fiction matters, and stories are important, not just the heavy, sad ones. Being able to escape to a mental world populated by Adler and Holmes made one of the most difficult times in my life less bleak.

I have a special place in my heart for all of the stories and characters I encountered and enjoyed during my cancer treatments, but Sherlock and Irene dwarf the rest of them because I didn’t just read about them, I also wrote. I forced myself to enter their world by creating, and in so doing, I found a deeper purpose and a satisfying temporary respite from my daily struggles.

I know that nothing I write will ever be perfect. That is the curse and blessing of the author, because it means flawlessness is unattainable, but that, at the same time, improvement is always possible. Still, though I know I can’t reach perfection, I write–because I know how it feels when a story becomes more than just fiction and a character becomes a friend. The chance to offer that to someone else who might need a new world to escape into and an imaginary friend today? That’s a priceless gift.

 

.How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Humor in the Detective

I absolutely love this photo, which depicts the immortal William Gillette as Sherlock Holmes in a dramatic mood, while Watson looks, frankly, horrified. I could laugh at it for hours.

Quite honestly, there’s a lot about Sherlock Holmes I could laugh at for hours. One of my biggest discoveries when I re-read the Canon as an adult was a treasure trove of dry humor that had gone over my head as a child.

Recently, my fellow Baker Street Babe, acclaimed author Lyndsay Faye, commented that in her view, one of the surest ways for a Holmes pastiche/fanfiction story to fail is to be over-serious, because that’s simply not the tone Doyle created. Her thoughts made me realize that as a writer and reviewer, I completely agree. I can forgive a lot of things in Holmes stories, and generally, my reading experience is celebratory of the fact that we all have these characters we love that we continue to want to explore. However, I have a lot of trouble with stories that treat Holmes and Watson and their world as humorless; those lose me.

As a writer, all of my Holmes stories are partially tongue-in-cheek, and I’m not sure readers always get the jokes. Author intention vs. reader interpretation is a topic for another time, but rest assured, if you’re ever reading one of my books and something strikes you as funny? It’s absolutely supposed to be.

When it comes down to it, I don’t think I could have sustained this many years of ardent love for these 60 stories if they weren’t funny. People often ask me and other writers why the stories have endured in popularity for so many years. I wouldn’t argue that humor is the only or primary reason, but I think it’s an important one.

So next time your love of Holmes starts to get over-serious, whisper “Norbury” to yourself and get over it 😉

(See “The Yellow Face” for context)

.How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.