…those of yeez of a certain age may well recall then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson saying, ‘…a week is a long time in politics…’ …well it hardly seems that on my wee blog, ‘coz just over a week ago, my dear pal, Authoress, April Taylor graced these pages with a terrific dissertation (a blog post, Mabel… a blog post) about how to create yer own promotional videos… and very well received it was, too… now here her name pops up again across my radar with her own latest launch, SHERLOCK HOLMES & THE OAKWOOD GRANGE AFFAIR... by m’Lady, April’s own description, ‘…a pastiche, emulating the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing style…’ …well, I have the complete WURKS of the good surgeon/scribbler himself, and have downloaded April’s book already in splendid anticipation of another entertaining product of her smashing writing prowess… yeez can read her insightful post below…enjoy…
Are readers bored with all the gore, grit and angst yet?
What is the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes, who, as written by Conan Doyle, is more machine than flesh and blood? And how could anyone believe in Watson as Conan Doyle portrays him?
If we look at Watson critically, how can he be that dim? Unless, of course, it is to accentuate Holmes’s incredible gift of deduction. After all, Watson is a doctor. Or, is Conan Doyle perhaps having a quiet joke against himself? Because, he, too, was a doctor, who, at the height of his fame as a writer, volunteered and travelled to South Africa so he might use his medical skills in the Boer War?
The simple answer to all these questions is that Conan Doyle knew what his Strand Magazine readership wanted. Derring-do and high adventure. So, that is what he gave them, not just with Holmes but Brigadier Gerard and Professor Challenger, too. He knew his market and fed it.
As a writer in the 21st century, it is clear Conan Doyle was all about plot. His characters are pale and two dimensional compared to detectives in today’s crime fiction. But is that a bad thing? Or, is part of Holmes’s enduring appeal a backlash against many of the stereotypical modern-day detectives – angst-ridden alcoholics with family issues, married to partners who haven’t bothered to work out that police officers do not work 9-5?
How refreshing then to meet a writer who cracks on with the story, gives us all the thrills and spills with none of the action-stopping internalisation that sometimes goes on for page after tedious page. Yes, I can see why Holmes is still popular.
And that, in part is why I decided to have a go at emulating the Conan Doyle style and write a Holmes pastiche. Most readers have given it the thumbs-up for getting the style of writing authentic. I must confess I found the great detective incredibly annoying by the time I had finished the book. I felt like smacking him over the head with a frying pan saying ‘How’s that for a seen but not observed incident?’
But why is Holmes so refreshing to read? Have we in fact gone too much the other way with our modern detective characters? All good fiction these days is character-driven, but there are sadly few writers out there whose detectives have calm, happy private lives and hurrah for them. Their books make such a refreshing change from the gory, gritty, relentless hopelessness so prevalent these days. How fabulous to find writers who, instead of making every scene downbeat and their main character demonstrating in nauseous detail the depth of their hidden demons, we get the necessary grit interspersed with contentment, humour and light.
Look at Ann Cleves’s Vera books or L M Krier’s Ted Darling books. Both protagonists have issues but these are not shoved down our throats. In some ways, the very fact that there are happy, humorous light episodes makes the darkness of the crime scenes and the twisted minds of the killers so much the blacker. Otherwise what do we have? The very opposite of the essence of a crime story, where good overcomes bad. Stories where it would be easy to transpose the killer and the detective, both are so damaged. How can you portray depths of darkness when everything is bleak and dismal? I think it very fitting that in 2017, the winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger is Anne Cleves.
You can find Sherlock Holmes & The Oakwood Grange Affair here:
Amazon.co.uk – http://amzn.to/2kAeFRc
Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/2kAIHbN
You can read more about April Taylor here:
…thanks again, m’Lady, April... see later… LUV YEEZ!
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