Mr. Holmes & My Love Affair with a Good Mystery!

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I’ve finally watched Mr. Holmes, a film starring Ian McKellen.  My entire life, I’d have a fascination with murder mysteries and those who were the best at solving them.  As a child, my favorite cartoon was Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and Inspector Gadget.  During summers as a tween and teen, I’d watch hour after hour of back to back episodes of TV shows such as Perry Mason, Columbo, Murder She Wrote, Spencer for Hire, and In the Heat of the Night… not to mention television shows such as Star Trek: The Next Generation* and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, of course!

I remember the Christmas that I was gifted The Complete Sherlock Holmes and the excitement I felt.  And, how could I NOT fall in love with the movie Young Sherlock Holmes?  I loved everything Ancient Egypt and a good mystery that’s afoot! **

I turned my love of solving a good mystery and tackled my family’s history. This need to suss out the secrets and origins of as many of my ancestors as possible was sparked after my great grandmother’s death and was finally brought to fruition when I recovered artifacts from the crumbling home of an ancestor. I visited cemeteries, churches, archives, libraries, and more from Illinois to as far east as Speyer, Germany. It was a massive puzzle and required so much research as well as a bit of deduction.  I think Mr. Holmes would’ve been proud of the progress that I made.

In 2008, when I heard that a Sherlock Holmes film starring Robert Downey, Jr. was in the works, I thought I’d give it a try but I must admit that I wasn’t a fan. I ended up not liking Sherlock as Mr. Downey, Jr. portrayed him. In Mr. Downey’s defense, Sherlock has always had some unlikable qualities, but he was just a bit too unlikable all of a sudden.

After that movie, I’d wandered away from the likes of Sherlock, Dr. Watson, and Perry Mason for the rugged, very flawed character of John Rebus in the great Scottish detective series by Ian Rankin. I’d picked up a book based on the cover, read the synopsis, saw the word ‘protest’, and was sold.  I fell in love with it immediately.  After finishing the book (The Naming of the Dead), I started the series from the beginning and read it through to the end.  I now spy on Ian Rankin’s Twitter account in hopes of getting a clue as to when the next John Rebus book may hit the bookshelves.

While waiting for new books to be published, I discovered that the BBC would be putting out a new series called Sherlock that starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  Yet again, my attention was diverted to my childhood love – a thrilling mystery.  As I didn’t have cable, I eagerly anticipated it being added to Netflix and as soon as it was, I watched the first episode.  A modern Sherlock, one that lived in the world of social media, aircraft, and smart phones.  At first, I was caught off guard.  I’m not sure about this typing on the screen, I told myself.  However, Mr. Cumberbatch’s acting was superb and the writing kept me guessing, so it wasn’t long before I fully embraced this modern-day Sherlock and now eagerly await every season on Netflix.

As a major fan of both The Lord of the Rings and X-Men franchises (HELLO, Captain Picard is Professor X!), I’d been quite a fan of Ian McKellen’s for some time.  So, when I heard that he was starring in a film called Mr. Holmes, I knew that I had to see it.  I purposely didn’t read much about it wanting to be as surprised as I could be when I saw the film.

Today, my hold on Mr. Holmes arrived at the library and I’ve just watched it.

(WARNING: SPOILERS)

The first few minutes, seeing Sherlock looking feeble and living in the country, I wasn’t sure that I’d made the right choice. Would this be too sad for me?  Would it be too boring for me?  This film portrays an old Holmes, one that has left not only London, but his profession behind.  The great mystery in this film is one of his own past, a whisper of a memory and a face, and the source of his heartache. It’s heart-warming and endearing which are things I usually don’t like too much of in a single film; this film pulled it off magnificently.  As usual, Mr. McKellen delivers.

You were expecting more in-depth information on the film? I don’t want to spoil it or you.  I want all of you to enjoy it for yourself!  It was a much more entertaining for me to consider my own history with Sherlock Holmes and mystery films, TV shows, and books, rather than write a very in-depth review of the movie.

I await the next season of Sherlock, the next book in the John Rebus series, and look forward to reading a book titled The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin, which I just purchased at a second-hand bookstore. And, after contemplating my long history with this genre and, in particular, Sherlock Holmes, I’ve set to the goal to watch all of Granada TV’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes episodes before the end of the year.

Looking for some good modern mystery/detective genre TV shows or books, I suggest those mentioned above as well as Luther (TV show), Wallander (TV show), Book of Killowen (book by Erin Hart), Knots and Crosses (book #1 in the John Rebus series by Ian Rankin), The Fall (TV Show), The X-Files (TV Show),  and The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln (book by Stephen L. Carter).  If you have any other suggestions for myself or others, feel free to let us know by replying!

TheMcNabbist – Radical Feminist, Anti-Racist, Trekkie, Geek, Family Historian, and mystery genre fan

*Fun fact: Not only were there direct references to Sherlock Holmes in Star Trek: The Next Generation but there were several episodes that followed the exploits of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the holodeck portraying Mason Dixon, a private investigator.

**Fun fact: I loved ancient history so much, that I decided to study Anthropology as my undergraduate major

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