I Am A Holmes Fan. There, I’ve Said It.

sherlock_holmes_watsonTHE DAY THEY MET
by Wendy C. Fries
MX Publishing, January 2015

I am a Holmes fan. There, I’ve said it.

Actually, perhaps I should confess that as a child I was far more immersed in the natural wonder of Conan Doyle’s The Lost World and deeply scarred, to this day, by The Poison Belt. But the Sherlock Holmes stories made me happy too. Sure, there were no dinosaurs but we can’t have everything.

I still have my cheap plastic magnifying glass that accompanied me on many an adventure.* Unlike Holmes however, I investigated ant colonies far more frequently than crime scenes.

Whilst I was too young to remember Basil Rathbone, I remember sitting down too close to the heater and watching Jeremy Brett float around like an elegant mist—albeit a mist with with sharp edges. Back then, little me was frightened of this pointy, hawk-like Holmes and felt safer with the far more jovial-looking Watson. And of course, who could forget that classic of the 80s, Young Sherlock Holmes?†

Now—though they never really left—Holmes and Watson are back at the forefront of popular entertainment. From BBC’s Sherlock to Guy Ritchie’s film adaptations to CBS’s Elementary, we are spoilt for choice by these characters re-imagined in both the past and in the present (phew, I thought I’d never get to some kind of segue).

For those familiar with the stories, you know why they have endured for so long. It’s the same reason why so many “classics” last as long as they do. While the stories themselves are great and the mysteries intriguing, it is the relationship between these two characters that draws us in, time and time again. Quite frankly (until Turk and J.D. from Scrubs of course) no other fictitious friendship has ever come close. So for those, like me, who have revelled in their adventures and been intrigued by their bond, what could be better than reading fifty short tales of Holmes and Watson, Sherlock and John meeting for the first time?

Skipping between the late 1890s and the early to current 2000s, each tale is a glorious new vision into a meeting so fatefully inevitable this book could have comprised a thousand or ten thousand or, heck, a million ways they met.

Wendy C. Fries writes with such wonderful humour and joy, not one story falls short. Holmes and Watson are portrayed vividly and with such skill you do not need the date markers or hansoms or the London Eye to tell whether you’re in Victorian London or in modern London.

I must confess a few turns of phrase and occurrences, ever ever so slightly, nudged me out of a few of the Victorian London tales. However, you (and I) must not listen to the historical pedant in me as it is unreliable at best and uninformed at worst. I am no expert on Victorian London so I am willing to let my wandering thoughts lie.‡

My questioning of phrases aside, I would happily read The Day They Met – Volume 2. As far as I know, this is not a thing that is happening but maybe if I plant the seed… as the great Paul Kelly said, ‘from enormously successful and beloved characters small books grow, and go on to grow another volume’.§


 

* It’s falling apart now, the two plastic lenses askew, held together with Blu-Tac and hope. The adventures mainly consisted of me “running away” to the backyard with a cloth – containing at least four Teddy Bear biscuits and a book – tied to a stick.

† Well, me apparently. I have not revisited this little nugget in fear it will turn out like that terrible day I re-watched a certain beloved childhood television show and felt my heart break at the sheer terribleness. FYI, He-Man and Danger Mouse still kick arse.

‡ Thoughts like ‘ooh, was that word in popular use at the time?’ or ‘ooh, is that how a Victorian hospital would have run?’. Ah, well. I’ll just have to read the book again and take notes and put Google to good use… because we all know Google is the “suppository” (yes, I went there) of all wisdom.

(Editor’s note: after rereading, there really were not many of these and were mostly medical terms that, when queried, were totally legit for the time period–that science degree has a lot to answer for when it comes to my pickiness.)

§ Disclaimer: Paul Kelly said no such thing. My lies continue. Dear audience, I can only apologise.

 

About Jamie Ashbird

Jamie Ashbird was born from an egg on a mountain top. At least that's what she keeps telling people. In fact she was born, quite boringly, from a uterus and was raised in Melbourne. It is here, in her native habitat, that she roams about watching the world go by and quietly judging people. She is also a writer... ahem, apologies, typo... she is almost a writer but wastes too much of her time watching other people play video games on YouTube.
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7 Comments

  1. I always thought “Dr. Interrobang” would make a good supervillain.
    Why did you tie the book to a stick?

  2. Dimitra Stathopoulos

    It was to emulate that classic look of a (WARNING: terribly un-PC term approaching) hobo travelling around with their goods tied up and carried on their shoulder at the end of a stick. I think it was a pretty common illustration for me to see. At least in 3 story books I can remember off hand.
    Like so: http://cdn.instructables.com/FFA/18N3/FQMXFDE4/FFA18N3FQMXFDE4.LARGE.jpg

  3. Holy cow this is a fantastic review. It’s *funny* and has such verve and voice I want to throw unsharp confetti at it. That is praises the book is a fine bonus, so thank you for that!

    Two things:

    * There is indeed a second book coming out: “The Night They Met” which will be more tales of their first fateful moments together, only these will have a more romantic tone. Hopefully all 12 decades between Holmes’ literary birth and today will be covered, too.

    * TELL ME THESE PHRASES! The ones that pulled you out of the book? I ask because I can not tell you how much Googling and digging I did to endeavour to use correct terminology. That I likely failed is a given, but I’m still curious *where.*

    Finally, Dimi, I don’t think you are “almost” a writer. Anyone with such clear voice and who uses it clearly IS A WRITER.

    Finally, finally: Thank you again!

  4. Pingback: Review of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The Day They Met | Mxpublishing's Blog

  5. Oh Madam Fries, you are absolutely lovely. Thank you so much for your kind words – and thank you for the unsharp confetti. I sprinkle powdered starlight and unicorn essence right back.
    And boy does the second book sound fantastic. I’m so excited for you and for your success. I can’t wait.
    Finally, gosh. When you write a little review on a new site back in February you don’t think the author will ever see it… *grins winningly*. I can’t recall specific phrases, which means I’m just going to have to read the book again. Oh, dear. Oh, the hardship!

  6. Hi Jamie! Not sure if you’ll receive this but…

    You kindly reviewed “The Day They Met” a year ago and in that review stated a wish for a volume twooo. There is one. Except it’s night. And there’s wooing. Also double-agent cabbies. And a detective in a bustle. I would be beside-myself-pleased if you wished to review.

    P.S. I’m four days from visiting Melbourne. I am also rather beside myself about that. There is a wonderland of coffee awaiting me. A Wonderland.

  7. Hi Atlin

    I do indeed have a cunning plan to review The Night They Met. Well, not really cunning, just a plan I suppose. Will pop you an email with more details.

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