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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Questions Holmes Would Have Asked

Maybe Sherlock Holmes was right with all that talk about not letting emotions get in the way of scientific reasoning.

On my shelf of books about magic (conjuring, that is, not the real stuff), I rediscovered the other day a book called The Secrets of Houdini, by J.C. Cannell. Within the first few pages, the author describes Arthur Conan Doyle's well known belief that Houdini used supernatural powers to accomplish his amazing escapes.

"Had he been faced with the mystery of the escape from a packing-case," the Cannell writes, "Sherlock Holmes, keen and cautious, would not have jumped impulsively to such a theory."

What would have he done?

"He would have said to himself, 'Is is possible for a man to escape by trickery from a packing-case in which he has been secured?' Moreover, Sherlock Holmes would have demanded, first of all, to know everything about the packing case; the manner in which Houdini was secured in it; the length of time required for the escape and other details."

Why didn't A.C.D. ask those same very natural questions? It does not seem to great a leap to suggest that his belief in spiritualism, to which he was so emotionally committed, may have affected the writer's approach. Sherlock Holmes, of course, would have approached the issue without that predisposition.

There seems to be a bumper crop lately of novels in which Sherlock Holmes is involved with the supernatural, and some of them quite good. The most common weak point, in my opinion, is that the great detective often accepts the other-worldly too easily. I can imagine a Holmes that would come to believe in the existence of vampires, for example -- but not without a lot of proof first.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dan - you're going to like Sherlock Holmes and The Whitechapel Vampire as it's Holmes reluctance to believe that Jack The Ripper is a vampire that threatens to bring Holmes' downfall. The book is out in May, but available early from independent bookstores like the Mysterious Bookshop in New York and Classic Specialities www.sherlock-holmes.com, and www.bakerstreetbabesbookshop.com