keywords to include: Ostentatious Obnoxious Extraordinary Dilettante
Holmes, the Perceptive Magician
Sherlock Holmes was certainly no dilettante, as anyone could see. Puzzle solving was his raison d’être, and it drove him with an extraordinary passion. As each exquisite layer of the puzzle was removed and laid delicately aside, his focus narrowed and intensified. Those who attempted to distract him would find him most obnoxious, even rude. He frequently said, “The game’s afoot, Watson!” But, for Holmes, it was no game – it was his very life.
Watson once wrote about “The Case of the Ostentatious Killer”, in which the murderer openly wore expensive jewelry pieces belonging to his victims, but little-known pieces which would not incriminate him. Holmes, most fortuitously, had written a monograph about patterns in jewelry purchases by the wealthy, and was therefore able to link these openly displayed bijou items to their recently-dispatched owners, and thus show a link to the mad killer. As the man was led away in shackles, he was shaking his head in disbelief, and was heard to mutter, “How the devil did he….?” Perhaps if he had known Holmes, or had heard of him…. but, that’s pure conjecture.
On another occasion, Holmes was able to track down “The Careful Burglar”, by showing that the hapless thief was not so careful as everyone thought. Inspector Lestrade had once again turned to Holmes when all their efforts at Scotland Yard had led them down blind alleys (to his credit, Holmes never publicly ridiculed Lestrade or any of his detectives, but we know of his private opinions by reading the stories penned by Dr. Watson). The burglar could not have known that his habit of smoking Turkish cigarettes while gathering up his treasures would lead to his capture. Another Holmes monograph, this time about the ash characteristics of various cigarettes of the world, led our bloodhound friend to his door.
Perhaps the most famous of cases that came to be solved by the Wizard of Baker Street came to be known as “The Wiles of Lady Persephone”, and as we learned from Watson’s treatment, this case showed a level of brilliance, and yea, even subterfuge, in Holmes that we hardly appreciated before.
This lady distracted our dear Holmes to a degree only seen once before, when he was so magnetically attracted to Irene Adler, and this time it was nearly his undoing. Even Dr. Watson saw through her facade, and perhaps their housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, also had an inkling. Only Holmes seemed to be oblivious to the danger signals. She led him on and on, even to the point of meeting him at several secret rendezvous, which quite frustrated our Doctor.
But, she eventually went too far, and it was at this point Sherlock showed that his fascination was only a pretense, and it served him well in getting her to reveal her cards. Incredibly, Holmes was making use of fingerprint identification long before it came into general use. We can assume that perhaps Lady Persephone was also impressed, as she was escorted into the Black Maria wagon, on her way to Newgate Prison.
Thank you again, Dr. Watson, for showing us the man, the complete man, not just the detective. We will ever be indebted to you.