‘Ever want to be a homicide detective? A Columbo, Poirot or Marple? Just for a Day?
What about Holmes for a day? As great as the others were/are, no one can compare to Sherlock.
A man has been murdered, in a house that had been securely locked. You inspect the exterior. One wall bears a rose-filled trellis. You see an undamaged trellis filled with roses. Sherlock Holmes, however, inspects the individual roses. He finds five crushed blooms, at 14” intervals. He deduces that one suspect, a slight adolescent boy, has climbed the trellis to break into the house.
A horse has vanished. It is jet black, with a white diamond on its forehead. There hasn’t been time for the thief to leave the vicinity. The horse must be nearby, but where? Only Sherlock thinks to take a wet cloth and rub the heads of all dark horses in the stable. He figures, correctly, that the white diamond on the ‘missing’ horse has been covered with charcoal.
Such was the analytical skill of Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective of all time. An eccentric, talented genius addicted to science, precision and detail. He is probably the most famous detective of all time, and has been portrayed by dozens of actors, most brilliantly by the late Jeremy Brett. Holmes’ memory is still kept alive by international sleuth/fan clubs, whose members meet regularly, all over the world, including on London’s Baker Street, to discuss his life and work.
You can really annoy these people, of course, by pointing out that Sherlock Holmes was not real. He was the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a Scottish physician whose interests lay more with politics and military manoeuvres than with detective fiction but who, nevertheless, became one of the most famous authors of the English language.
Check your local museum listings for Sherlock Holmes & the Croydon Clock Tower Mystery. This is a museum exhibit that communicates with you while you participate, rather than observe. You’ll walk through eight rooms, each the set of a different location. You’ll read hand-written police notes, listen to sound tracks of police interviews, hear hansom cabs passing, street vendors calling, fog horns wailing. You’ll smell telltale odours, and poke around parlours and bedrooms, finding bits of evidence (including many red herrings). You must use your powers of observation and deduction, though, while you learn the scientific method of problem-solving. After an hour of sleuthing, you’ll end up in the study of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who answers your questions and helps you solve the murder.
To give you a leg up, here’s a tip from old Arthur—er, Sherlock: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
Blitz Magazine, May 2001