Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Holmes is Where the Heart Is

When I was little, I mean 9 or 10, my dad would read all the Sherlock Holmes stories to my sisters and me. We grew up on guy stuff. He also read us "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped" and other books he had loved when he was a boy.

He would consider it a victory when we didn't want to go to sleep, when we begged for another chapter.

Which, I am not surprised now that we did beg. A couple of weeks ago I read a Sherlock Holmes story for the first time since when I was little. I went through "A Study in Scarlet." 

I had forgotten almost everything. I have not seen any Sherlock Holmes movie or TV show I can recall since I was a teenager and my dad had us watching the old Basil Rathbone / Nigel Bruce movies. So I have had nothing over the decades refreshing my memory.

I listened to "A Study in Scarlet" on audiobook. I was used to it being read to me. Little things would come back to me as I listened. The Scotland Yard detectives, Lestrade and Gregson. My dad had always gotten a kick out of them. When I heard their names I laughed out loud because I had forgotten them and there they were again.

After that I was not laughing out loud much.

Because, I have to say, "A Study in Scarlet" was terrifying!!

I could not believe my dad read this to us when we were so young!

A few details drifted back. The part of the book set in Utah, when the farmer Ferrier is being tormented by the Avenging Angels, and the numbers are appearing on the walls and ceilings of his house, even when he is staying up and keeping watch. By the way, correct me if I am wrong but I do not think that detail was ever explained in the story, how those numbers could appear even when he was keeping his vigil. That is the one thing that was never explained. It was a big deal to me because I remember that terrifying me when I was a kid.

However as I said before the entire story is terrifying!

It was ghoulish and seamy and it works its way into your mind so you keep going over it. I had not been expecting that. I had sort of thought Sherlock Holmes stories were about Sherlock Holmes smoking his pipe and, OK, sniffing his cocaine, as well as playing his violin, greeting distraught clients, and solving mysteries without ever leaving 221b Baker Street. 

Then this!


Those horrible numbers appearing in Ferrier's house.

The flight into the wilderness of Utah trying to get away from the bad guys.

The guy being poisoned. How he had to choose the pill. The look on his face when he realized he had been poisoned. At that point, I have to say this, I shut down the book for a while. I had heard enough.

I was planning on reading more Sherlock Holmes.

However now I am not sure!

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