Sherlock: Can I Have a Word?


So, we all know what happened on New Year's Day. The Sherlock Christmas special brought us temporarily away from the modern exploits of Holmes and Watson, back to its original Victorian setting, and I, for one, loved it.

Don't worry, I'm not about to spend this entire blog post spoiling it for you. That would be cruel and unfair and, quite frankly, un-bookish. I, instead, would like to talk about the original stories - I read most of them about nine months ago, and watching the programme in all its true-to-source glory was a particularly good reminder.

If you're rolling your eyes at the word 'classic', then stop it. These ones are actually readable.
In Victorian times and before, it's widely accepted that writing was a very different kettle of fish to what it is today, mostly because television and film hadn't made us expect our stories in visual form yet (as in, we didn't expect to imagine the action in images). Now, writing advice columns are full of 'show, don't tell', but in those days, waffling on in very long sentences wasn't just expected, it was encouraged. Just look at this extract from Pride and Prejudice, which I always struggled to get through but is apparently very good:


It's lovely and very descriptive, but . . . I always find that I get bogged down in those paragraph-long asides and abandon book. The thing with Sherlock Holmes is that it's a mystery, and, like in most mysteries, the sentences are a lot shorter. Suspenseful. Here's an example:


It's still a bit more long-winded than the modern spy stories we might be used to, but I find it a lot more understandable. With Sherlock, it doesn't take me two or three pages to get into the story, which is useful because I'm a slow reader, so with a classic it might take me ten minutes to surmount those three pages and if I'm not in the story by then, there's trouble.

I also love the plots, and somehow I don't seem to say that about many books, let alone series. Often, I comment on a single twist, or how good the characters are, but Arthur Conan Doyle is just masterful at weaving the web for Holmes to unpick. Sure, some of the shorter-length mysteries are a bit rushed at the end, but in novel form it's perfectly paced too. In my opinion.

If you're wondering what this blog post was, then I'm not really sure. Maybe I'm fangirling about the new Sherlock episode. Maybe I've written an ode to Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world's most famous detective. Or maybe I'm just so desperate to talk to someone who's read the original Adventures of Sherlock Holmes that I've created historically accurate arguments to make you pick them up.

For that to happen, all I really need to tell you is that the main collection is free on Kindle, and you can get A Study in Scarlet, the original novel, for less than a pound if memory serves.

Go get the free books, bookworms, and then come talk to me about them in the comments.
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