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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sherlock Holmes and Journalists

From "The Adventure of the Three Gables"

In recent postings, I’ve looked at Sherlock Holmes and the Press. But what about his relationships with the people behind the Press – the journalists?

Unlike Nero Wolfe, who frequently calls on the inside knowledge of a journalist named Lon Cohen, Sherlock Holmes has no long-term relationship with a member of the Press. In the later years of his career, however, he forms a bond with an unusual character named Langdale Pike. As Watson tells it:

Langdale Pike was his human book of reference upon all matters of social scandal. This strange, languid creature spent his waking hours in the bow window of a St. James’s Street club and was the receiving-station as well as the transmitter for all the gossip of the metropolis. He made, it was said, a four-figure income by the paragraphs which he contributed every week to the garbage papers which cater to an inquisitive public . . . Holmes helped Langdale to knowledge, and on occasion was helped in turn. 

Unfortunately, our only glimpse of this engaging personality in the Canon is in “The Adventure of the Three Gables.” But other writers have tried to fill in the blanks about Pike. The most recent such attempt, so far as I know, was by Kieran McMullen and me in The Amateur Executioner. That book also includes Horace Harker, who Holmes used as a channel of disinformation in “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.

The only other journalists Holmes encounters are Neville St. Clair, otherwise known as “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” and Isadora Persno, “the well-known journalist and duelist, who was found start staring mad with a match box in front of him which contained a remarkable worm said to be unknown to science.” For full details on the Persano case, you’ll have to consult Dr. Watson’s tin dispatch box.

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