Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

On Detectives

Penned upon the 6th of December, 2007

I love mysteries. I can’t get enough of them. I never figure them out before the end, of course – the only one I ever did was ‘The Valley of Fear’ and that was because it was really terrible. No, I just like seeing the clues pile up and marvelling at the cleverness of the villains’ plot and the detective’s solution. Sometimes, they’ll be one and the same – the gentleman-thief will both pull off the heist and prevent one even more dastardly from going down. That’s fun too!

I recall I once shared a little review of the computer adaptation of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ – an unfavourable one. It’s hard to imagine it any other way, though, really – Christie’s strength is not plots, but characters, and a typical Poirot crime could have been commited by any of a number of subjects. It is subtle psychological hints, not accumulated evidence, which points Hercule Poirot to the perpetrator. Not really videogame fare, is it?

I mention this because I noticed today that a new Sherlock Holmes game has been released. Holmes lends himself better to the interactive model; to gradually eliminating the impossible. There have been a few efforts over the years – in fact, one of the first games I ever owned was ‘Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective,’ back when people still made FMV games. I saw ‘Sherlock Holmes: Secret of the Silver Earring’ and it looked dreadful, so I gave Lovecraft cross-over ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened’ a miss.

The new release is ‘Sherlock Holmes vs. Arsène Lupin’, and it has been getting positive reviews… but the truth is, Lupin has never really floated my skipper. The prospect of a catburglar hero is entirely sound – A. J. Raffles pulls it off, after all – but Lupin’s stories are so dreadfully overwritten; that all France fears Lupin’s very name is reiterated every other page, while Lupin’s schemes usually amount to “grab all the dosh and chuck it in a van,” “stand on the victim’s windpipe then run” and so on. Plus, Lupin is always changing appearances and identities – how are we supposed to sympathise with his character? One can’t hug a shadow.

For my money, though I’d have to revisit it to see if I remember it well, the best modern day inheritor of the Holmesean detective method is Jonathan Creek starring Alan Davies. Creek plays a magician’s ingénieur, using his undstanding of misdirection to solve crimes which seem impossible to have committed. Davies is also enormously fluffy, and a regular on Stephen Fry’s QI, so he beats out Hugh Laurie’s House in my eyes.

If you so desire, you may follow any commentary upon this missive with the aid of our “RSS-O-Matic” apparatus.

Neither remarks nor trackings-back are currently permitted, so as to focus your attention better upon the wisdom herein.

Further remarks are not permitted.