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.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Detective Who Transcends the Genre

"If one were choosing the best 20 short detective stories ever written, at least half a dozen would be about Sherlock Holmes."
-- Julian Symons, Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel (U.S. Title: Mortal Consequences)

I found this quote tucked in a folder in one of my files. I don't know why I wrote it down, but I now find it very interesting for this reason:

Many Sherlock Holmes readers couldn't give their opinion of the twenty best short detective stories ever written for the very simple reason that they don't read detective stories. Of course many Holmes fans are avid mystery readers, but not all of them. The reason is that Holmes transcends the genre.

This isn't particularly unusual. There are many fans of Lord of the Rings who don't ordinarily read fantasy and many adult readers of Harry Potter who don't normally read children's books. But it is a characteristic of truly outstanding works, and the Holmes canon more than qualfies.

The late Mr. Symons, whose large and diverse body of work includes two mystery novels about an actor -- Sheridan Hayes -- who portrays Sherlock Holmes on television, makes an interesting word choice when he says "detective stories" and not "mysteries."

All of the Holmes stories are detective stories because they feature a detective, although some are also spy stories. But they aren't all mysteries. Think of "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton." Yes, Holmes solves the identity of a killer in the end, but that's an afterthought, not the point of the story. And it's still a ripping good detective story, with or without that coda.

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