The Terrible Things People do to Sherlock Holmes

The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin (1978)

This book starts 50 years after Watson’s death when a box of papers left in his will is opened and the contents revealed to the public.

It’s supposed to be about Holmes investigating the Jack the Ripper murders. Sounds like a great premise for a story, doesn’t it?

But I can’t read it. The author has transformed Holmes into a bombastic blowhard—a person I wouldn’t be able to be in the same room with. The bookjacket claims this Holmes is “more complex, more human, and more fascinating than the one imagined by Arthur Conan Doyle.” What they don’t mention is how very much more annoying he is. He’s arrogant, conceited, swaggering. I don’t care how smart he is, he’s awful.

Here’s an excerpt where Lestrade stops by to talk to Holmes about the murders: As Lestrade approaches, Holmes says:

“But unless I am much mistaken, here comes Lestrade to put their case in person. Are you aware that it is possible to distinguish thirty-three different trades and professions by the sound of their footsteps? I was thinking at one time of publishing a small monograph on the subject. Ah come in Inspector! The cane chair is vacant. I gather you have finally come to seek my assistance in putting an end to these Whitechapel murders.”

No, no, no! Holmes would NEVER talk like that! This is his tone throughout the book!

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is probably my most beloved fictional character. I read the stories over and over. If Holmes did insult someone, he did it with such wit, style, and class that people didn’t even know they were being insulted until they thought about it. Sometimes Holmes is gruff or short, but he’s not egotistical or a windbag—he just is.

I did however, love Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes which I just rented and watched twice. Ritchie mixed characters from different stories, gave Holmes and Watson some snappy dialogue and didn’t try to stick to a believable story—but it was good, except there was maybe too much fighting.

One response to “The Terrible Things People do to Sherlock Holmes

  1. I DID get kind of bored during the fight around the shipwright…dock…whatever it’s called. But, yeah, all in all, great movie.

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