Being Light: Adventures of a London Detective Agency

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Watson , with the exception of two narrated by Holmes himself and two more written in the third person. The stories first appeared in magazine serialization, notably in The Strand Magazine , over a period of forty years. This was a common form of publication at the time: Charles Dickens' works were issued in a similar fashion. The stories cover a period from around up to , with a final case in They are read as much for their characterization and the stylised late-Victorian era in which they take place as for the mysteries themselves.

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More actors have portrayed Sherlock Holmes than any other character, and by , according to a report in The Times , the worldwide sales of the stories were running second only to the Bible. Little is known of Holmes' early life or his family background, save that he is the grand nephew of the French artist Emile Jean Horace Vernet.

It is also known that in his younger years, Holmes attended at least one of the country's leading universities Sherlock has an older brother, Mycroft, whom the younger Holmes considered to be more intellectually gifted than himself.


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Mycroft spent much of his life in Her Majesty's Secret Service. If Sherlock date of birth of is correct, that places Mycroft's date of birth as At the age of 20, Holmes was to find his life's calling. For it was in that year that he began his illustrious career as the world's first consulting detective, taking his first case His study of science at university having informed his already keen mind and powers of observation, Holmes employed a process of deductive reasoning in his work, with great success.

In early he is presented as an independent student of chemistry with a variety of very curious side-interests, almost all of which turn out to be single-mindedly bent towards making him superior at solving crimes. In another early story, "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" , more background on what caused Holmes to become a detective is presented: a college friend's father complimented him very highly on his deductive skills. Later stories make clear, however, that the above list is misleading, and that Holmes, who has just met Watson, is pulling Watson's leg.

Regarding non-sensational literature, his speech is replete with references to the Bible, Shakespeare, and even Goethe. This is somewhat inconsistent with his scolding Watson for telling him about how the Earth revolved around the Sun, instead of the other way around, given that Holmes tried to avoid having his memory cluttered with information that is of no use to him in detective work. Holmes is also a competent cryptanalyst.


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  • He relates to Watson, "I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writing, and am myself the author of a trifling monograph upon the subject, in which I analyse one hundred and sixty separate ciphers". One such scheme is solved in "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", which uses a series of stick figures. The brief discussion between Watson and Holmes about the two characters begins with a comment by Watson:. Holmes seems convinced that he is superior to both of them, while Watson expresses his admiration of the two characters.

    It has been suggested that this was a way for Conan Doyle to pay some respect to characters by writers who had influenced him, while insisting that his is an improvement over them.

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    So great a master of disguise is Holmes, in fact, that in " A Scandal in Bohemia ", Watson is compelled to remark of him, "The stage lost a fine actor, even as science lost an acute reasoner, when he became a specialist in crime. Although Holmes looks upon himself as a disembodied brain, there are times when he can become very emotional in a righteous cause, as when he disapproves of the banker Holder as to how the man treated his son, in " The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet ". Watson says, "he was more nearly moved by the softer human emotions than I had ever seen him". While the bullet wound proved to be "quite superficial", Watson is moved by Holmes' reaction:.

    The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

    But even in "retirement" Holmes would again come to the aid of his country as the First World War approached. In , at the age of 60, he was instrumental in the capture and arrest of a Prussian spy known as Von Bork. The Von Bork case seems to have been Sherlock Holmes' last bow.

    Following the arrest, Holmes returned to his life of seclusion in Sussex to live out his life in peace and solitude, keeping bees and eventually publishing a manual on the subject. Aside from these, the details of his later life and death are not well known, but he lives on to this day through the records of his thrilling cases, and will always be remembered and regarded as the "World's Only Consulting Detective". Watson describes Holmes as "bohemian" in habits and lifestyle. Although Holmes is described in The Hound of the Baskervilles as having a "cat-like" love of personal cleanliness, Watson also describes Holmes as an eccentric, with no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order.

    He alternates between days or weeks of listless lassitude and similar periods of intense engagement with a challenging case or with his hobby, experimental chemistry: "extreme exactness and astuteness Nevertheless, Watson was very typical of his time in not considering a vice Holmes' habit of smoking usually a pipe heavily, nor his willingness to bend the truth and break the law e. In Victorian England, such actions were not necessarily considered vices as long as they were done by a gentleman for noble purposes, such as preserving a woman's honor or a family's reputation this argument is discussed by Holmes and Watson in " The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton ".

    Since many of the stories revolve around Holmes and Watson doing such things, a modern reader must accept actions which would be out of character for a "law-abiding" detective living by the standards of a later time. They remain staples of detective fiction, being done in a good cause. Holmes has a strong sense of honour and "doing the right thing". Holmes can often be quite dispassionate and cold; however, when hot on the trail of a mystery, he can display a remarkable passion given his usual languor.

    He has a flair for showmanship, and often, he prepares dramatic traps to capture the culprit of a crime which are staged to impress Watson or one of the Scotland Yard inspectors as at the end of " The Adventure of the Norwood Builder ". He also holds back on his chain of reasoning, not revealing it or only giving cryptic hints and surprising results, until the very end, when he can explain all of his deductions at once.

    Holmes does have an ego that sometimes seems to border on arrogance; however, his arrogance is usually deserved. He seems to enjoy baffling the police inspectors with his superior deductions.

    Holmes is usually quite content to allow the police to take the credit for his work, with Watson being the only one to broadcast his own roles in the case in " The Adventure of the Naval Treaty ", he remarks that of his last fifty-three cases, the police have had all the credit in forty-nine , although he enjoys receiving praise from personal friends and those who take a serious interest in his work. Although he initially needed Watson to share the rent of his comfortable residence at B Baker Street we are told in " The Adventure of the Dying Detective " when he was living alone "I have no doubt that the house might have been purchased at the price which Holmes paid for his rooms" suggesting he had developed a good income from his practice, although it is never revealed exactly how much he charges for his services.

    It is possible, however, that he charges based on the client's ability to pay in " The Adventure of the Final Problem ", Holmes states that his services to the government of France and the royal house of Scandinavia had left him with enough money to retire comfortably, while in " The Adventure of Black Peter " Watson notes that Holmes would refuse to help the wealthy and powerful if their cases did not interest him, while he could devote weeks at a time to the cases of the most humble clients.

    Certainly, in the course of his career Holmes had worked for both the most powerful monarchs and governments of Europe including his own and various wealthy aristocrats and industrialists, and also been consulted by impoverished pawnbrokers and humble governesses on the lower rungs of society. Holmes is generally quite fearless. He dispassionately surveys horrific, brutal crime scenes; he does not allow superstition as in The Hound of the Baskervilles or grotesque situations to make him afraid; and he intrepidly confronts violent murderers. He is generally unfazed by threats from his criminal enemies, and indeed Holmes himself remarks that it is the danger of his profession that has attracted him to it.

    Finally, Holmes does have capacities for human emotion and friendship. He has a remarkable capacity to gently soothe and reassure people suffering from extreme distress, a talent which comes in handy when dealing with both male and female clients who arrive at Baker Street suffering from extreme fear or nervousness. Appeared in Detective Sylvia Shale.

    Her full name is Alexandra Katherine Climpson. She was tall with reddish hair and gray eyes. B oyd? I do not know if this was her only appearance in print.

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    I can find almost no information on C. Yorke other than this was likely a psd. He or she created a more well known character, Queen Sue, a tough, smart gun moll who sometimes headed her own gang and sometimes worked alone. I count several Queen Sue stories in the "gangster" pulps, mostly in the early s.

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    I have not yet been able to read a copy of "Hot Numbers". Seems to be a widow at the time of the stories. Exotic foreigners are prominent. Sometimes pretends to be the agency's secretary rather than its owner for no apparent reason other than to keep her connection to the agency a secret?

    Clientel is drawn mostly from the upper classes and nobility. The Baroness is more mature and thoughtful and a better detective than Oppenheim's other female PI, Miss Mott, see below. Clara is wooed by a Spanish nobleman through most of the stories and eventually accepts his marriage proposal, after helping to restore his family fortune. Clara smokes cigarettes, rides horses, plays golf and is considered quite beautiful. She seems to solve cases by use of good guesswork, "practical psychology" and fortuitous prior knowledge of certain facts or people.

    The stories don't appear to aspire to play fair with the reader. Bella Brickley has to be the most fawning narrator in all of detective fiction.

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    By comparison, she makes Bunny Manders seem almost arrogant toward Raffles. Her sometime sidekick is Jerry Riker. According to Colleen Barnett in Mystery Women , Peggy was a student of criminology and used scientific methods. Only one or two feature actual detection. Miss Mott writes an advice column for a weekly or bi-weekly London women's magazine.

    She is sort of a combination Ann Landers and Martha Stewart. With the help of her uncle, who is a Scotland Yard detective, she decides to open an investigation agency almost on a whim. Kathleen Gregory Klein describes Miss Mott as "An ineffective detective without any ethical code and a romantic fool with a craving for excitement.