Friday, April 25, 2008

The greatest detective ever !

The period was just after the American civil war. People were moving in and out of England, and new opportunities were emerging. It’s the time where people have not heard about cars, and the transport almost solely depended on Cabs – here it meant Horse drawn carts. People wore long drawn coats and cloaks with hats matching their heads. The roads and alleys were narrow and so many counts and duchesses were present everywhere. It was the winter time at England. Everywhere, there is plain white mist, and people can’t even see what’s there ahead, even 2 feet across. It was the time when crime ruled & the famous Scotland Yard was still finding it hard to chunk down the crime rate. Every person affected with crime had one name in mind, to go to. Even the police went to him once in a while. Yes. It was the time of Sherlock Holmes.

By imagining everything in the previous paragraph, one can easily slip in to the memories of old England & its inseparable member, Holmes. Anyone who reads Holmes will dream about being in that part of the world and seeing Holmes work. I did, too.

Holmes first got introduced in 1887, in the novel ‘A Study in Scarlett’. The novel is narrated by Dr. Watson, Holmes’ man Friday. Watson searches for a house in England, and meets a friend, who suggests the name of Holmes, who is in need of a room mate. Watson goes to see Holmes, to a hospital where Holmes conducts chemical experiments. When Watson goes there, Holmes has just finished discovering an agent which gets precipitated only by hemoglobin, which helps police to identify stains of blood. As soon as Holmes sees Watson, he says Watson has been to Afghanistan, and by thus making his first fan, an astonished Watson. There starts the friendship, and the great chain of stories, 60 in all, 56 short and 4 novels featuring the greatest detective of all times, Sherlock Holmes.

It was a great concept those times, about a detective who can find things perfectly as if he is predicting the happenings, and people almost immediately fell for this master detective. Arthur Conan Doyle based Holmes’s character from a friend of him, a doctor, Dr. Joseph Bell, who had some unique observation skills. The first novel was an instant hit, and so were the remaining stories.

Almost all the stories were narrated by Dr. Watson, about how Holmes started his investigation, and how he arrived at the clues and how he solved the case. Holmes’ observation skills were excellent, and he used to surprise Watson by giving clues then and there, before finally solving the case.

One of the most unforgettable novels featuring Holmes is ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’. I’m sure almost everyone must’ve read this novel, and‘ve become its fans.

I read it during my early schooling, in a Tamil comic called ‘paico classics’ which printed classic English stories in beautiful comic structure. The story has a tinge of eerie effect, and instantly it got struck in the little boy’s heart, at that time (which is me). I bought the complete Holmes’ collection 3 years ago, and have read it thrice till date. I was just sitting in the office, when suddenly I remembered this, and that’s the reason for this blog.

Holmes has a villain, matching his standards. Dr. Moriarty. He is a criminal mastermind, whom Holmes finally nabs, and dies along with him in ‘The Adventure of the Final Problem’. Later, after seeing the response of the fans, Doyle again gave life to Holmes, in “The Adventure of the Empty House”.

Of late, some movies have been filmed about Holmes, and my favorite is ‘Young Sherlock Holmes’ by Steven Spielberg. It‘s based on the happenings during Holmes’ schooling. It’s a nice one, with an interesting story line.

Overall, Holmes is a great detective, my most favorite till date. Whenever I read Holmes, I get immersed in the dreams about old England, with mist clad streets, cabs, criminals, Dr. Moriarty & above all, Sherlock Holmes!


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