When I was a child, and lived out in the middle of Ohio farmland isolation, my paternal grandmother lived in an adjoining house to ours–we could walk through a door and visit her. My grandmother spent her retirement in sedentary crossword puzzle-solving, reading mystery novels and watching mystery shows on television. I loved my grandmother’s house for finding the occasional rare book that wasn’t a mystery (she introduced me to “Gone With the Wind” when I was 13, which made my mother worry), but I detested mysteries. When I would partake in one, it seemed like half the show or story was the plot and the other half was how the writer made up enough resolution to make the sleuth look like a god. I thought most mysteries were too neat–“Rear Window” by Hitchcock was lovely, but I liked the fact that it was slightly a mystery and more of just a really great story with pretty people in it. Dennis Lehane’s stories are far from pretty, but they seem to focus more on story than genre as well.
I have never read the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though…there’s a sheer fear that I’m going to be disappointed.
I tend to detest most genre entertainment for the reason that most of it seems formulaic and produced in a fashion too quick to be quality. As an added bonus, if you follow me on social media, you know that I tend not to watch much television. Recently, however, I was persuaded to watch “Downton Abbey”, and was hooked; by “hooked” I mean on the writing, on the cultural dichotomy, and on Masterpiece productions. Suddenly, television felt elevated beyond the network and cable stuff…it could seem literary. And, in the concept on related consumer marketing (“if you liked this, you might like…”), I tried on an episode of Masterpiece’s/BBC’s “Sherlock”. The experience seems to be a whole different brand–not just mystery, not just neatly tied up in a bow at the end, not just a general plot, but as though I’ve finally reached a definition of mystery. Sherlock isn’t brilliant–he just knows how to “observe.” His ability to know where to look and what to look for come up against the fact that he is a sociopath. He’s not a god, but he’s mistaken for one, until someone has more than three sentences of exchange with him.
The entire story, each one, is discovering with the sleuth.
Now to be brave enough to see if the reproduction is as good as the original.