Today I'm pleased to offer an intriguing guest post from British Sherlock Holmes writer David Ruffle. He is the author of the pastiches Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Horror and Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Legacy, and the editor of Tales from the Strangers Room.
Ghosts need not apply.
So decreed Sherlock Holmes.
But, why? We know he was the most rational of men, steeped in logic and science, but would that preclude him from attempting to shed some light on behaviour or events that could be termed supernatural?
He is both dismissive and scornful of anything approaching the supernatural; we only have to turn to the pages of "The Devil's Foot," The Hound or "The Sussex Vampire" to see that, but is there more to his comments than meets the eye? (In those cases he was right to do so, of course, for human agents were at work.)
Surely a man with such an inquisitive mind would be chomping at the bit to investigate one of the greatest mysteries known to mankind rather than dismissing the supernatural as just so much poppycock. His disdain leads me to think that Holmes had indeed had a brush with the paranormal and could find no solution that appealed to his admirably balanced mind. If that was the case, are there clues in the Canon?
Well, yes, I think the answer lies in two brief, tantalising snippets given to us by Watson; think James Phillimore and the cutter Alicia. Both inexplicable disappearances, both looked into by Holmes, both seemingly with no solution. In spite of the few words that Watson uses in mentioning these cases, the very way he describes them smacks of something otherworldly and is redolent of vanishings recorded throughout history.
I believe that Holmes, having found no "ordinary" solution applied pressure on Watson not to publish an account of these two problems, maybe as much for his failure as for the whiff of the supernatural. Watson, however could not resist teasing his readers with these fascinating glimpses into problems forever to be unanswered.
Fortunately for us, pastiche writers of today show no such hesitation when pitching Holmes against all manner of unearthly foes. I, for one, enjoy seeing Holmes battling against the unknown. If the great crimes and criminals are no more, then why not let him combat greater evil?
For Holmes and Watson, the world is not enough. Amen to that.
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.