Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quintessential Quote #34

"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact."
-- Sherlock Holmes, "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"
When I ran into this line in my re-reading of the Canon, I immediately made a note to quote it in the next draft of my latest mystery novel.

Not only every Sherlock Holmes story from A Study in Scarlet to "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place," but every mystery tale contains obvious "facts" that turn out to be misleading. Isn't it in the very nature of a mystery story that things are not what they seem at first? That's been part of the stock in trade of every mystery writer since Edgar Allen Poe. Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen were especially adept at this.

In fact, I think I could make a case that every good story is built on deception -- not just mysteries. Star Wars, The Great Gatsby, The Phantom of the Opera, Wuthering Heights, Fringe, The Lost World, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Dracula, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Casablanca, Star Trek, Macbeth . . . these very different works all seem to qualify. And I'm not being selective. I just threw out titles that popped into my head.

Or am I wrong? Maybe I'm not thinking of some counter-examples. Is it possible to have a good story in which the reader or viewer is not initially deceived by "an obvious fact"?

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