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Monday, 7 October 2013

Holmes in their DNA

Arthur Conan Doyle laid down a challenge to all writers when he created Sherlock Holmes - either homage or avoidance. This is likely the reason that Agatha Christie, an Englishwoman, made her detective Poirot a Belgian. He could not have been English because he would have seemed too close to Holmes.

'It would be interesting to place Poirot and Holmes in the same room and see who is the smartest.' Crime writer, Val McDermid.

Another detective who can be seen as an early son of Holes was Jules Maigret created by George Simenon who featured in some seventy five novels between 1931 and 1972. Sexton Blake was another who actually appeared in a staggering  4000 stories by more than 200 different writers, and even lived in an house on Baker Street.

The list of Holmes-alikes goes on an on and it can be argued that any fictional detective created since Holmes first walked the mean streets of Baker Street owes much to the pipe smoking, drug addicted intellectual sleuth with the hawk like nose and piercing eyes.
Sexton Blake

And whilst the modern crop of superstar fictional sleuths, charters like Ian Rankin's Rebus or Mark Billingham's Tom Thorne may on the surface seem far removed from Sherlock Holmes, it is doubtful that they would have existed in the first place were it not for Holmes. And both Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham have expressed a great admiration for Conan Doyle's remarkable creation. Indeed even authors who have never read Doyle but are influenced by other crime writers are by default taking from Doyle and Holmes since so much of him runs through the entire DNA of crime fiction.

Holmes may have not been the first fictional detective but he was and remains the most influential.

1 comment:

Buddy2Blogger said...

Nice post, Gary.

Most modern detectives owe their existence to Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary creation.