It all started when I saw a cool haircut on Twitter. I didn’t know Lyndsay Faye (shame on me, as I was about to discover), but when her picture appeared on my feed I couldn’t help but comment on her amazing hair. I went on to lament that my own locks would never meet such majesty.
Then I discovered she is a writer…of Sherlock Holmes tales.
And her name isn’t Doyle.
I’m a bit of a snob about Mr. Holmes. No literary character has given me such inspiration and solace as Sherlock; I think of him as a kindred spirit. I don’t like to hear any discussion of the world’s greatest detective from people who don’t know the deerstalker doesn’t actually show up in the books or from the troglodytes who don’t recognize the name Sindey Paget. (Go sit in the corner–especially if you’re still asking yourself what a deerstalker is.)
So, I’m a little touchy about Holmes. As a result, I hadn’t read any of the non-original Holmes stories. Pop-culture’s interpretations of Holmes tend to be irritating, mostly because they center around the most boring aspect of the tales: his sexuality. Honestly, people, you can get more water out of a stone.
I planned to live my entire life without reading from the multitude of “new” Holmes stories, until Lyndsay Faye, the woman with incredible hair, responded to me on Twitter. “You look slammin’,” she said, in an attempt to mitigate my previous lamentation.
I swooned, hit the floor, and blacked out.
When I awoke, I rushed to my local library (I still do that) and grabbed a book with her name in it: The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories.
The table of contents boasted familiar names. Some of my favorites, in fact. Stephen King. Michael Moorcock. Neil Gaiman. But did any of them ever compliment my hair? No.
I poured some coffee into a cup, waited for it to find the right temperature, and then poured myself into The Case of Colonel Warburton’s Madness.
If you’re a Holmes fan, the opening line will blow you away with it’s familiarity and humor. Faye’s yarn contains the Watsonian lexicon of obscure English words that makes Watson such a charming storyteller, and every paragraph is brimming with the warm (but always peculiar) friendship between him and Sherlock. The mystery is a very good one and, just like I often did with Doyle’s work, I found myself stopping to lean back in my chair to go over the details of the case in an effort to solve it on my own. (I got close.) Flipping through those pages was like stepping back into the old stories for the first time, and I experienced a familiar elation I never expected to know again so intimately.
I’ve shed my prejudice. There are dozens more Sherlock Holmes stories in this little book and plenty more on the bookshelves. It’s time I quit avoiding them.
I might even write one myself.