Thursday, 10 January 2013

Requiem for Sherlock Holmes

I have just finished reading REQUIEM FOR SHERLOCK HOLMES by Paul Stuart Hayes (Published 2012 by Hidden Tiger Books [ISBN 978 1 4717 8975 5]). This publication contains a novella and four short stories, all written my neighbour's son who also happens to be an ex-student of mine.


Over the years I have read a lot of stories written about Sherlock Holmes by people other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and I must admit that they have varied in quality from the excellent to the downright awful. In the later category was one book that portrayed Holmes and Mrs Hudson as lovers (something totally unbelievable in my opinion).

I felt that this book’s stories were all in the excellent to good end of the spectrum. They seemed to have been written in a style that was reminiscent of that used by Conan Doyle, I did not spot any obvious verbal or factual anachronisms, the spoken language felt ‘right’, and the plots were typical of the cases Conan Doyle featured in his stories. I enjoyed the obvious mutual dislike exhibited by Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson that was highlighted in one story, and I thought that giving Holmes’s father the first name Arthur was a nice touch. I hope that Paul continues to write, and I look forward to reading more of his Sherlock Holmes stories.

6 comments:

  1. An interesting aside is that the deerstalker hat and meerschaum pipe we associate with Holmes, as seen in the cover art, were fixed in our collective consciousnesses by American stage actor William Gillette, who was born in Hartford CT, and was a neighbor of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Harriet Beecher Stowe ("Uncle Tom's Cabin"), among others.

    The unique and elaborate home he designed for himself overlooking the mouth of the Connecticut River, now known as "Gillette Castle", is one of the quirkier but most fascinating tourist attractions in the state, especially for us wargamer types!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gillette

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  2. Gonsalvo,

    I knew that Holmes's use of the deerstalker hat and meerschaum pipe were not 'invented' by Conan Doyle ... but not that William Gillette was responsible, nor that Gillette lived in Hartford.

    An interesting little 'nugget' of information. Many thanks for sharing it with us.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Thanks for your kind review, I'm really glad you liked it. It's especially appreciated as I know how much of a Holmes fan you are (and could have ripped it to shreds if I didn't have my facts right).
    The lack of anachronisms in the book is 100% down to Sheilagh Walsh, a neighbour of Alan's who proof read the book for me. Her knowledge of the time and the words and phrases used were invaluable to me.
    Also, having Holmes' father's name as Arthur was completely unintentional but I'm glad you liked it. I was so concerned not to repeat any names that I didn't see the connection - until now.

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  4. Paul,

    Rest assured, had your stories not been very good, I would have let you know! As it was I was very pleased to read stories that had the right ‘feel’ to them; in other words, that I could have imagined Conan Doyle writing himself. As I wrote in my review the plots were consistent with the original Holmes stories – as were the characters – and there were no obvious anachronisms in the language or the facts … and I would give full marks to your proof reader on both fronts for ensuring that! It seemed to me that where mentioned facts were accurate and reflected genuine research to ensure that they were so. I only wish other authors that I have read were so punctilious.

    It is interesting to hear that the choice of Arthur for Holmes’s father’s first name was unintentional … but to me it seemed to be a nice way of tipping your cap to Conan Doyle, and if anyone asks in future I would suggest that you tell them it was a subconscious choice.

    I look forward to reading your next stories when they are published.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Thanks for your kind review, Bob.

    Paul has indeed been punctilious. There are several historical characters in the stories, often less than famous (for instance Alexander Falconer Wallace, a Governor of the Bank of England) the and Paul has researched their backgrounds diligently.

    Gonsalvo's comment about William Gillette is something of which Paul and I are very much aware, but the Holmes silhouette is so identifiable now that we had little option other than to include it on the cover and spine.

    Furthermore on Gillette, we have published a collection of Holmes playscripts, some by Conan Doyle, some by Gillette, and Paul has written a set of contextual notes to open the book.

    If interested, you can find The Theatrical Sherlock Holmes on the Hidden Tiger website - www.hiddentigerbooks.co.uk

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  6. Alan,

    It was an honest review and the book deserved the paraise I gave it ... and its says much for Paul's research that he was so punctillious in his desire to be accurate.

    You are right about the popular 'image' of Holmes; it is the deerstalker and pipe that has become the universally recognised representation of him, and you were wise to stick with it.

    I did mention Paul's other works (and your own) in my previous short review ... and I look forward to reading more of both your output in the future.

    All the best,

    Bob

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