“Perhaps the greatest of the Sherlock Homes mysteries is this: that when we talk of him we invariably fall into the fancy of his existence.”
Old wine in new bottles — don’t you just love it when some ambitious, devil-may-care writer comes up with a fresh, truly inventive twist that transforms a well-worn theme or character into something new and exciting? Think of the new play Gatz, which revisits The Great Gatsby or Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? which updates the story of Ulysses.
What fun — and what a challenge! This is what sprang to mind when I read about The Sherlockian, a new novel by Graham Moore, which approaches the immortal Sherlock through the lens of modern-day Holmes-o-holics (not sure that’s a word, but it should be!). As reviewer Janet Maslin enthused, “This is a novel, by, for, and about Holmes-quoting mystery nuts and it understands what makes them happy. Red herrings, exclamations of ‘Elementary!’ and the assurance that life’s problems have logical solutions are at the core of Mr. Moore’s world view.”
In what sounds like a witty and winsome premise, our Sherlockian guide Graham ricochets back and forth between Arthur Conan Doyle in 1900 and modern-day Holmes fans. It sounds like quite a romp.
At one point in the story, Arthur makes a promise to his readers that could well be a “Writer’s Credo” worth framing: “I am going to take care of you. I know it seems impossible now, but it will all work out. You cannot see where I am going, but I can, and it will delight you in the end.”
Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that what readers crave: To be in the hands of a gifted, supremely confident storyteller who will delight and amaze them: taking them down enchanted, unexpected byways and delivering them safely to somewhere new?