When Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty went over the falls, there was a massive public uproar which astonished Conan Doyle. More than twenty thousand people cancelled their subscriptions to the Strand Magazine... Abusive mail arrived at the editorial offices by the sackload whilst hundreds more letters were sent direct to Conan Doyle beseeching him to reverse Holmes's death. One letter from a woman reader began, 'You brute!' People wore black armbands in public mourning. Newspapers around the world reported the death as a news item and there were obituaries by the score... Evil, it seemed, had triumphed over good.
-- From The Doctor and the Detective: A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, by Martin Booth
Holmes's fans need not have worried. When Arthur Conan Doyle, who had grown tired of the character he had created, killed him off in 1893 in a story in the Strand Magazine entitled 'The Adventure of the Final Problem,' it seemed that the road had finally ended for the enigmatic sleuth, but really it had just begun. Holmes as it turns out, was invincible.
Conan Doyle caved in to the pressure and began writing about the detective again in 1899 with a play entitled simply Sherlock Holmes. When the first episode of The Hound of the Baskervilles was published in the Strand in August 1901, the reading public was ecstatic. Hound, however, was considered just a story from Holmes's past. Conan Doyle didn't officially raise Holmes from the dead until the publication of 'The Adventure of the Empty House' in 1903.
Since that time, well over one hundred years after the publication of the first of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective stories, Sherlock Holmes lives on as an ever-present adventurous sleuth. From the pages of literature to the many memorable on-screen portrayals of Holmes, everyone has their favorite incarnations and they continue to be produced.
For those who have devoured the complete 'Canon' and ache for more, many authors are running, some footloose and fancy free, with the character.
Here is a list of suggested reading:
The Italian Secretary: A Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes
By Caleb Carr. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005
This short novel by bestselling author Caleb Carr pits Holmes, Watson, and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock's eccentric elder brother) against conspirators at Queen Victoria's Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland. Criminal activities begin to take place in the west tower of the palace -- the very wing where Mary, Queen of Scots, had an Italian confidant named David Rizio killed in the 16th century. Holmes suspects that this revival of violence portends the assassination of Britain's current monarch -- Queen Victoria.
The Final Solution: A Story of Detection
By Michael Chabon. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2004
Sherlock Holmes is 89 and intent on beekeeping -- until a mysterious mute boy appears in the town of Sussex, where Holmes lives as a retiree. The mysterious child owns a parrot that produces German utterances -- a fact that raises suspicion in this WWII setting.
A Slight Trick of the Mind
By Mitch Cullin. Doubleday, Inc., 2005
The 93-year-old Holmes is completing a manuscript concerning a case about a young woman who played a glass harmonica. Holmes completes his account by the book's end, and the intriguing conclusion reveals something of his unusual character. Cullin creates a portrait of a fragile though intellectually resilient Holmes as he deals with infirmity and finds friendship in old age.
Mrs. Hudson and the Spirit's Curse
By Martin Davies. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 2004
Sherlock Holmes' housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson does more than tidy up and deep clean. She is the star crime solver who surmises that a tribal curse is responsible for the misfortunes suffered by a reputable British trading firm with business ties to Sumatra. Members of the bankrupt firm are found dead from exotic poisonous snakes and tarantulas. Holmes and Watson attempt to solve the crime, but Mrs. Hudson and her orphan sidekick beat them to it.
Spider Dance: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes.
By Carole Nelson Douglas. New York: A Forge Book, 2004
Irene Adler, the opera singer turned detective, and her illustrious adversary, Sherlock Holmes, cross paths as they work on an interrelated investigation. This is the eighth installment of the Adler mysteries, and like its predecessors it features a cast of historic characters that includes Nellie Bly, Willie Vanderbilt, and King Ludwig of Bavaria.
The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes
By Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr. New York: Random House, 1954
This collection of twelve tales is based on incidents or elements of the unsolved cases of Sherlock Holmes. The plots are all original works by the son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and one of America's greatest mystery writers, John Dickson Carr. The authors pay painstaking attention to the tone, mood, and detail of Sir Doyle's original masterpieces.
The Game: A Mary Russell Novel
By Laurie King. New York: Bantam Dell, 2004
Mary Russell travels to India in 1925 with her former mentor, now husband, Sherlock Holmes. The duo is searching for Kimball O'Hara, the protagonist from Rudyard Kipling's famed novel Kim. This exotic novel evokes the sights and smells of India and features a cast of history-inspired characters.
Sherlock Holmes, the Hidden Years
By Michael Kurland. New York: St, Martin's Press, 2006
This all-original anthology chronicles the "Great Hiatus," the period when Sherlock Holmes was believed dead following a plunge into Reichenbach Falls with archenemy Professor Moriarty. The truth about the 35-month hiatus is revealed and Holmes' adventures described. He appears in San Francisco, the Himalayas, or above the Arctic Circle.
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