I mentioned that I was reading the new Sherlock Holmes novel, and I now have to explain much to do with that statement. I noted that a new Holmes novel had been released last year when I saw a review in the Herald, but had not chased it up in the bookshop. Then last week I was in the library and saw it in the new releases, grabbed it with glee and compounded an irrefutable fact: I am a massive nerd, and the fact that my nerdom took place in the local library is just sweet serendipity. I love Sherlock Holmes novels - just the originals though. I haven't read every take off or satire, I haven't watched that tv show currently airing - in other words I'm a fan of the novels, but I'm not an obsessive Holmes fan. I did see the first Guy Ritchie film - and will get around to seeing the second one - and I liked it. I thought it was fun and captured the spirit of the novels well. And indeed this novel (which was the first to be commissioned and approved by the Conan Doyle Estate) was very well written. Andy Horowitz is a British writer who is well known for the teen Alex Rider series and the screenplays for Foyle's War, the Poirot tv show, and Midsomer Murders. His blog says that he recently had an explosion in his eye from presumably sitting at a computer writing all day - the man is prolific! His blurb says that he has committed more fictional murders than any other writer today.
Anyway, when did my Holmes nerdiness start? I do recall in 1998 that I made sure my itinerary in London included a trip to the real Baker St, to see a little plaque that alluded to Holmes so I must have liked the novels back then. I can't remember when I read the first Doyle novel - but let's just say that the clever Holmes appealed to an amatuer sleuth like myself. I've already mentioned my love for the Phryne Fisher series and it's clear that I'll never get over my regret at not becoming a real detective. I just didn't want to spend years training and working as a common cop first - I wanted to go straight to crouching down beside chalk outlines and taking swigs from my hip flask to counter the grim horror of my day job. You know, like how all the tv and novel detectives act at the scenes of the crime.
I've learnt all my sleuthing from books and tv so I could possibly become a detective without doing the training anyway - Holmes, Phryne, Poirot, Miss Marple, Tony and Carol from the Val McDermid series, all the crazy Swedes in the Nordic Noir, Jane Tennyson in Prime Suspect. I've taken notes from them all. Except... circa 2005 I embarked on a major investigation in my workplace as staff members pleaded with me to find out who was stealing yoghurts from the communal fridge. We were talking a staff of 60 or so, so tricky work. I undertook the case because I love a challenge but my major tactics of hovering around the fridge nonchalantly, and then inspecting tongues as I spoke to people to identify any yoghurt residue, did not deliver the goods. P.D James would not have been impressed: it remains a cold case.
Meanwhile... I recommend the new Holmes novel. It has some 'adult' content but I think that brings the Holmes tradition into the modern age. And as I read the novel I was reminded that I had read in Stepehn Fry's memoirs last year that he is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society. A quick scan of their website highlights their eccentric activities and they are wonderfully nerdy: they dress up as Holmes and Watson and take pilgimmages to pertinent spots from the novels, glamorous places like Switzerland. They debate facts from the novels, read excerpts, and I would hazard a guess to say that they would probably drink a lot of whiskey and eat plentifully. Sounds divine. I'm thinking of joining...