|Signing books at the Ohioana Book Festival|
Sherlock Holmes is the lingua franca - universal language - of mystery writers and fans. By that I mean that he is the one detective that all mystery lovers are familiar with, and most have read.
This came home again to me most recently at the Ohioana Book Festival last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Signing books, I stood next to private eye writer Andrew Welsh-Higgins. Later, I was on a mystery panel with Shelley Costa, author of a cozy called You Cannoli Die Once. Both were admirers of the first season of BBC Sherlock, not so much the third season. They also read the Canon.
"We all read Sherlock Holmes for enjoyment," Andrew said to me. "Do you ever read for research, or do you just remember everything?"
I most certainly do not just remember everything!
During the panel the moderator asked all of us, "In writing a series, how do you keep everything straight?"
"Arthur Conan Doyle wasn't very good at that," I pointed out, "and the inconsistencies with the stories have kept Sherlockians happily playing The Game ever since." My own game is try to make my stories as consistent as possible, so much so that I have birthdays for all my main characters and exact dates for all my stories.
And yet . . . I believe that the adventures of Sherlock Holmes happened exactly as Watson recounts, despite those troublesome details. Mystery readers and writers the world over seem to agree.