Friday, March 22, 2013

An "Elementary" Love for Sherlock Holmes

One of my great joys is the column I contribute to in my local paper, the Highlands Today, along with my coworkers at the library. We call our weekly column "Library Lines." With my director's permission, I will be posting my articles on this blog after they are published. I hope you guys enjoy, and please let me know what you think!

An "Elementary" Love of Holmes

            Long before we had CSI, Law & Order, or Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle created a bohemian detective for hire who would capture the imaginations of Victorian readers and many generations to follow. After 157 years, 4 novels, and 56 short stories, Sherlock Holmes continues to charm readers with his breadth of perception, powers of deduction, and forensic knowledge. Few characters are revered the way Holmes is, which is shown in the over 300 societies and websites devoted to him, and many an author has attempted to pick up Conan Doyle’s mantle since his death in 1930. A recent lawsuit raised against the Conan Doyle estate is fighting for the rights of these authors, believing Sherlock Holmes—and all related characters—is and belongs in public domain.
            Although many have fought for the privilege to pen a Holmes mystery, only within the last two years has the Conan Doyle estate authorized a new Sherlock Holmes novel, written by Anthony Horowitz. The House of Silk brings Sherlock Holmes back with all the quirks, methodologies, and formidable powers of analysis and deduction that made him fiction’s greatest detective. Holmes and his devoted companion, Dr. John Watson, are drawn into an international conspiracy associating the highest levels of government with the lowest depths of criminal activity, and threatens society as they know it.
            Loren Estleman is another of the few authors benefited with the Conan Doyle Estate’s good graces. Her short story and essay collection The Perils of Sherlock Holmes chronicles Estleman’s many published short stories staring the grand detective as well as three previously published essays to bring readers deeper into the Holmes universe. What would happen if you could convince a group of eighteen best-selling authors to write about Sherlock Holmes? Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger found out when they persuaded top authors like Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, and Laura Lippman to contribute to A Study in Sherlock, a compilation of short stories inspired by the Sherlock Holmes canon.
            In John Gardner's The Revenge of Moriarty, Professor James Moriarty survived the drop from Reichenbach Falls and is plotting revenge against those who brought him down. He has accumulated new wealth in the American's and begins to annihilate the kingpins of the London crime ring, then prepares his most hideous revenge for his arch-enemy, Sherlock Holmes. Will he succeed?
            No character is revered for his powers of observation and intuition quite like Sherlock Holmes is. And now Maria Konnikova is here to tell you that you can have that power, too. In her book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, Konnikova explores Holmes’s unique methods of ever-present mindfulness, astute observation, and logical deduction and shows readers that with some self-awareness and practice, we can harness the same brain power to solve problems in our own lives. Not that Holmes always gets it right, at least if you ask Pierre Bayard, author of Sherlock Holmes was Wrong. In his book, Bayard reexamines the case of the Hound of the Baskervilles and concludes in fascinating detail how Holmes, and by extension Arthur Conan Doyle, got it all wrong. Bayard demonstrates a whole new way of reading mysteries that allows readers to outsmart not only the criminals in the stories we love, but also the heroes — and sometimes even the writers.
            With the upsurge of Sherlock Holmes movies, television series, and other media, the need for Holmes is growing quickly. If the Conan Doyle estate loses ownership of the Holmes copyright and it enters entirely into the public domain, readers may see an influx of Sherlock Holmes novels and stories in the coming years. Now is a good time to be a Sherlock Holmes fan.

            Who deserves custody of Sherlock Holmes? Tell us what you think. "Like"Sebring Public Library on Facebook or tweet us @HLCLibraries using #freesherlock

Update: The court case which would decided whether Sherlock and his friends are public domain was decided in late December 2013. The judge declared that Sherlock Holmes IS public domain, except for the last ten stories published after 1922. So rejoice Sherlockians! As long as you don't include details published in the last ten stories, no more fees for you!

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