Sleuths of My Youth: Sherlock Holmes

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When visiting my grandfather’s house when I was eight, I stumbled on Sherlock Holmes for the first time. He owned a standalone copy of the “Red Headed League.” I read the whole thing in one reading and became fascinated with the character.

I later went to the library and picked up a copy of, A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel. The first part of the book was fast-paced and fun. I got to the second part of the book and was stopped in my tracks.  I found totally confused as the scene shifted to the American frontier and there was no Holmes, no Watson, and it took me about two decades to pick the story back up and finish it. Of course, the tricky part of A Study in Scarlet is that Doyle tells us how Holmes catches the killer in the first half and in the second half gives us a complete back story on why the killer committed his crime. It was not a great literary device and he’d do far better next time in The Sign of Four.

My dad didn’t think very much of Holmes, making the point to me on several occasions that Holmes was a drug addict.  This didn’t stop my interest in the character. I watched every adaptation of Holmes I could find, whether it was a movie or a TV show, or a cartoon, Holmes was always fascinating to me.

Holmes had this ability to find out what was hidden, to use his knowledge to uncover the truth. And it not only furthered my interest in detective stories, he really changed my life.  Holmes provided a framework of solving life’s problems, of looking beyond the obvious solutions that others accept to find the truth.  Sherlock Holmes probably had an impact on me choosing to study journalism.  It’s impacted how I perform at the office. I find myself looking closer at problems that come across my desk, to uncover the truth of a problem.

In recent years, a couple television producers have taken Holmes out of Baker Street and the Victorian setting in both Sherlock and the cartoon series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century.  The former series is well-done and the latter sounds like an interesting and even fun concepts. While these adaptations may work, they aren’t strictly necessary. Whatever era Holmes is in, he’ll remain fascinating and compelling for youth in generations to come.

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