There’s always a set up. Watson stumbles, Sherlock triumphs. It sometimes starts the case, sometimes it’s presumptions made about a client, or - as in ‘The Gloria Scott’ - it carries on throughout.
Not once does he spare us or Watson the benefit of his observational prowess. Even in ‘The Final Problem’.
Sometimes the deductions even set the scene. Take ‘A Case of Identity’: Sherlock tells Watson of a domestic case he solved and in walks Mary Sutherland with a domestic problem. Formula? Maybe not. But did Doyle think of these all before and use them in specific stories…
I’ve made a breakthrough, in that I think it will be easier to start with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes first and apply them to the longer ‘novels’. I’m doing this now.
So many false starts. Let’s hope this one works better!
I was reading A Study in Scarlet when it hit me: I have no idea how to start this little project. My first thought was to just break each story down by how it begins, the action and how it ends. Then go deeper into the protagonists, how Holmes finds out, whether he goes out or not, what methods he uses…then my head started spinning and I had to stop thinking.
I guess what I’m going to do now is just write notes on each one. Stuff that I think’s relevant. I know the stories pretty well already and have an idea which are similar - on the surface anyway. So I bought a notebook to carry with me and I’ll make notes in there, then write them up here. Not in a linear way. I’m thinking that as I read, my current knowledge and new stuff I notice will help me form some kind of process.
Second time lucky…here goes!
Are they all exactly the same?
I read my first crime novel at the age of ten - Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? A classic Christie. Since then, I’ve not looked back. Any novel that involves a pre 1950s sleuth…I’m there. Wimsey, Temple, Poirot. And, of course, Holmes. But the below quote from Mrs Oliver, a name that appears next to Poirot’s in a number of novels, has always made me think - are all these wondrous stories written using the same formula? I’d love to put every author to the test but I’m going to stick with my number one for now. That’s right, I’m going to try and find out if Conan Doyle had favourite structures that he used time and time again, as a vehicle for the infamous Sherlock Holmes’ adventures. Pointless? Probably. But it sounds like fun to me.
I’ve written thirty-two books by now – and of course they’re all exactly the same really.
Mrs Oliver, Cards on the Table, Agatha Christie