Long Bar 311.
(photo credit: Bloomberg)
Ever since Sherlock Holmes was born out of the imagination of his creator Arthur
Conan Doyle in 1887, the brilliant London-based “consulting detective” has never
gone out of style. Holmes with his acute reasoning may even be more popular now
thanks to the Baker Street Irregulars members, the expanded Sherlock Holmes
Museum in London and even the 21st re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes that recently
aired on PBS.
But Doyle grew sick of his hero, who had become more
popular – and to some more real – than the author himself.
tried to “kill” Holmes by pitching him over Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland in
1893, England literally went into mourning and Doyle was vilified as if he were
The fascination with Sherlock Holmes today and during
the time that Doyle was writing those stories makes for the subject of a clever
debut for Graham Moore, a 28- year-old expert in religious history. Switching
between two centuries, The Sherlockian
works as an insightful look at the rise
of celebrities, extreme fans and a character who continues to be bigger than
life as well as a testament to the power of storytelling.
In 1893, Doyle
longed to be remembered for writing “real literature,” not the “few morbid
yarns” about Holmes. Forget that Holmes had brought Doyle more fame and fortune
than he could ever have achieved with his other work. He’s tired of receiving
letters addressed to Holmes, of strangers seeking the great detective’s help, or
being asked to sign books as Holmes, rather than with his own name. But he’s
equally unprepared for the outcry when he supposedly kills his character – the
obituaries that treat Holmes as a real person; the throng of people wearing
black armbands and the strangers who accost the author, demanding to know why he
In 2010, introverted Harold White has just been
admitted into the prestigious Baker Street Irregulars during their annual New
York banquet. The highlight of the dinner is to be the unveiling of Doyle’s lost
diary – until the scholar who supposedly has the book is murdered.
game’s afoot, as the greatest detective would say, and the shadow of what would
Sherlock Holmes do hangs heavily over both Doyle and White. To prove that he is
the better man, Doyle sets out to solve a series of murders of young women. His
Watson is his good friend Bram Stoker, a theater manager who worries that his
little novel about Dracula will never catch on. White is hired by Doyle’s
great-grandson to solve the scholar’s murder and retrieve the diary. White’s
sidekick is more of an Irene Adler – a female journalist with a few
Moore deftly alternates The Sherlockian
between his two heroes
who are working in two time periods on two continents.
Yet both men rely
on Holmes’ style of crime solving.
Moore smoothly delivers an evocative
view of late- 19th century London as well as its 21st century
The endearingly nerdy White is perfectly balanced by the
arrogant and often priggish Doyle.
Doyle would be proud of Moore’s
ingenious The Sherlockian
So would Holmes. As will any fan of the Holmes
– Sun Sentinel/MCT