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, May 7, 2012

Quintessential Quote #50

"There is nothing more stimulating than a case where everything goes against you."
-- Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Chapter 5
In fiction, everything has to go against the detective or there isn't much of a story. Even in a short story there are usually false clues and innocent parties that look guilty as heck. Otherwise there would be no story. So this quote applies not just to the detective and his enjoyment of a challenge, but to the reader and his or her enjoyment of the story.

Besides, how can a Great Detective be a great detective if if is all obvious from the beginning? The ability to overcome obstacles is what makes a hero heroic. In detective fiction some of those obstacles may be physical, such as a villain with a gun, but often they are intellectual -- trails that go cold and theories that don't pan out. Sherlock Holmes has his share of both.

One of the greatest hurdles to someone writing mystery novels in the Great Detective tradition, in which the sleuth is a larger-than-life character in the mold of Holmes, Nero Wolfe, or Lord Peter Wimsey, is how the detective can fail to solve the crime for hundreds of pages and still look like a superhuman genius. It's a big plot problem.

One solution is for everything to go against the sleuth, thus affording a worthy challenge. The Hound of the Baskervilles is the only canonical novel where that really works. The other three are really novellas with long flashbacks attached.  

What is your favorite Sherlock Holmes quote? 

1 comment:

  1. My current favorite is: "The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot acccomplish," from The Copper Beeches. This resonates with me right now as Undershaw, Conan Doyle's former home, is being threatened with destruction. We are desperately trying to raise awareness around the world of the plight of Undershaw in the hopes that we may have "the pressure of public opinion" as our defense of this historic home where, among others, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" was written.
    Jacquelynn Morris, ASH
    US Ambassador for The Undershaw Preservation Trust
    Web Diva for www.saveundershaw.com