The Great Detective

The Great Detective

The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes

Book - 2015
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A wickedly smart and rollicking journey through the birth, life, and afterlives of popular culture's most beloved sleuth

Today he is the inspiration for fiction adaptations, blockbuster movies, hit television shows, raucous Twitter banter, and thriving subcultures. More than a century after Sherlock Holmes first capered into our world, what is it about Arthur Conan Doyle's peculiar creation that continues to fascinate us? Journalist and lifelong Sherlock fan Zach Dundas set out to find the answer.

The result is The Great Detective : a history of an idea, a biography of someone who never lived, a tour of the borderland between reality and fiction, and a joyful romp through the world Conan Doyle bequeathed us.

Through sparkling new readings of the original stories, Dundas unearths the inspirations behind Holmes and his indispensable companion, Dr. John Watson, and reveals how Conan Doyle's tales laid the groundwork for an infinitely remixable myth, kept alive over the decades by writers, actors, and readers. This investigation leads Dundas on travels into the heart of the Holmesian universe. The Great Detective transports us from New York City's Fifth Avenue and the boozy annual gathering of one of the world's oldest and most exclusive Sherlock Holmes fan societies; to a freezing Devon heath out of The Hound of the Baskervilles ; to sunny Pasadena, where Dundas chats with the creators of the smash BBC series Sherlock and even finagles a cameo appearance by Benedict Cumberbatch himself. Along the way, Dundas discovers and celebrates the ingredients that have made Holmes go viral -- then, now, and as long as the game's afoot.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015.
ISBN: 9780544214040
Branch Call Number: 823.8 DOYLE
Characteristics: xiv, 320 pages ; 24 cm


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Jan 18, 2017

People are fascinated by Sherlock Homes and Dr. John Watson. People say they never lived, but many enjoy the idea that they did.

The Great Detective is a biography of both Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes himself. It's a retelling of Dundas's own adventure to Scottish moors to find the inspiration of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The reader is introduced to the Baker Street Irregulars, the most well-known Sherlockian/Holmesian enthusiasts. Dundas eases into a discussion of fandom, referencing the fervor of readers as the stories were published in the Strand Magazine and comparing them to dedicated fan fiction writers on Tumblr playing with more recent adaptations of the Homes and Watson in BBC's Sherlock and the US series Elementary.

Dundas is charming and approachable in his writing. He's excited about the enduring quality of The Great Detective. He knows that it's "not real" but hopes we'll play The Game alongside him.


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