Archives For Sherlock Holmes

When my husband, Martin, leaves for work, counting down the days until he can finally retire, I will often find myself sat in our kitchen, with my dog Gladstone by my side, reminiscing on my life and my days with Shelley Holmes. I have written about how my friendship with that incredible woman left such an indelible mark on myself, and how our time together in her detective agency was some of the most exhilarating of my life. Had things not ended the way they had, I like to think we would still be running through the streets of Manchester righting wrongs.

Often, my dives into memory are nothing more than day trips, a fleeting remembrance of a life that was. On this day, however, my thoughts circled around the same topic they had done for some time. At the weekend, Martin encouraged the children – lord knows why I still refer to them as children now that they’re both nearly three decades on this – to help carry some things down from the attic, in the hopes of finding things suitable for a car boot sale.

Amongst the bric-a-brac and items stored away with a half-arsed notion to retrieve them one day, my old keepsake box. A metal tin in which I kept various items I believed, in my 20s at least, would be of sentimental value in my later years.

Rifling through numerous flyers for bars no longer open, and photos of men I would rather not discuss with my husband, it was evident that younger me was a bit of an idiot; overzealously placing a higher value on these items than I would today. Underneath these trinkets though, rattling at the bottom of the box, was a small tape recorder.

‘Good lord,’ whispered my husband. ‘Not seen one of those in years.’

My eldest, intrigued by his father’s ‘old fashioned’ item, quickly formulated a campaign to have me play the contents of the tape so we could all laugh at my more idealistic self. Having taught at a city college for several decades now, it was often remarked upon by my loved ones that I had become quite serious. The prospect of hearing me without the baggage of the education sector having worn me down would apparently be amusing.

Bowing to peer pressure, I agreed and Martin, with a devilish grin, pressed play. And yes, the first twenty minutes were entertaining enough as I listened to the John Watson of yesteryear, dictating his stories into the tape, and cursing himself when something didn’t work. Then, after one particularly impressive bout of swearing due to being unable to recall a particular synonym, the recorder skipped to the next file and I heard her voice.

‘Right,’ She said. ‘Is this on?’

I snatched the tape out of my husband’s hand and pressed the off button. Whilst there was much protestations and accusations of me spoiling everyone’s fun, I quickly left the room as if being pulled by some unknown force. Guided by this spirt,  I made my way to office and dropped the tape recorder into my top drawer, locking it away. I couldn’t have it listened to, I simply couldn’t.

Returning to the living room, I played up my sudden departure by joking that the voice on the tape was that of a former lover. Martin feigned a jealous, but jokey, anger, whilst my children seemingly regressed several decades to that of stroppy teenagers. Sensing the conversation was hurtling towards discussions about S-E-X, they stuck their fingers in their ears whilst making spewing noises.

‘Oh, Dad. Bleurgh. Just don’t. Bleurgh.’

Later that night, after the children left, my husband politely, but bluntly asked me why I did not just own up to the room that it was SH’s voice on the tape. I offered up an explanation that to do so would only encourage them to want to listen to the rest of it. Growing up, they had had an insatiable appetite for SH and their father’s time as a detective. Even now, they will ask me to read out one of my adaptations of our  adventures. Of the ones that I have self-published, their reviews are always the boldest online.


This case though, I told my husband, was not my story to tell. The things that happened, that SH talked about on that tape, cut my friend to her very core. To the rest of the world, it did not change her, but I saw the signs that said the Baskerville Case had taken its toll.

I am blessed that my husband is an extremely understanding man and knowing he wasn’t going to get

anything more out of me, retired to bed whilst I stayed up with wine and cigarettes.

It has been several decades since the Baskerville Case happened and as I type this, I am reminded of the numerous online conspiracies that plagued SH. Although she was forcibly distanced from the aftermath, I knew of the weight of it hung from her neck for some time.

The media speculated over how it could have ended the way it did, and the official account was seemingly clear cut. For SH, though, the case became an example of every negative point of the temptations she fought hard against, and which, despite her cavalier attitude, steeled her resolve to ensure nothing like this would happen again.

This is the case that has been dominating my daily musings. Looking back on that time, I feel I wasn’t there enough for SH. Back then, I was drifting from the agency a touch and finding love in all the wrong places. I should have tried harder to break the long periods of silence that greeted me when I returned to our home. Instead, I just waited it all out until she was back to semblance of her usual self. All done, nothing to worry about, let’s go on an adventure.

I’m not sure if Shelley ever reads my work; I have never received evidence to suggest she does. I know the very idea of it would appal her, but I think it’s why I do it. To prove to someone, anyone, that she was deserving of praise, even when fate was against her.

Spilling everything on to the page like this, I realise, has merely been a ruse to convince myself of what I should do.


Question: Did 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet need a belated sequel? Perhaps not. Whilst retelling Shakespeare’s tragic romance, Romeo and Juliet, using garden gnomes wasn’t without its charms, it certainly wasn’t making Disney/Pixar bank.

Second question: Did the unasked-for sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet need to be a Sherlock Holmes pastiche? Whilst the consulting sleuth is still running strong in repeats of Sherlock and new series of Elementary, it’s surprising that anyone would be begging for an animated version aimed at kids.

And yet, here we are. Life can be funny at times.

Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt) are back and just as in love as they were seven years ago. However, the course of true love never did run smooth and, having been heralded as the new keepers of their garden kingdom, cracks are beginning to show in the porcelain.

Juliet wants to make their garden the best it’s ever been and in doing so, unwittingly starts to push Gnomeo away. ‘The garden can’t wait,’ she cries, before brutally adding ‘You can.’ Before this animated sequel can turn into a child friendly Kramer vs Kramer, a bigger problem lands in their lap. Someone has kidnapped all their gnome friends from the garden!

As the lovers search for their missing friends, they cross paths with consulting detective, Sherlock Gnomes (Johnny Depp) and his put-upon assistant, Watson (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Gnomes and Watson are also on the case of the missing gnomes and believe it to be the work of the insanely camp genius, Moriarty (Jamie Demetriou).

Effectively Sherlock Gnomes is an extended after school special about working together and appreciating what you have in life. Whilst Gnomeo and Juliet bicker about who is best put to take care of the garden, Watson feels wildly underappreciated by Gnomes, who, ironically, sees but does not observe his friend. It’s clear where it’s all heading to and, despite a third act twist, you can be sure that equilibrium will be restored, and everyone will be singing Elton John songs as the credits roll.

This certainly isn’t a bad thing. Sherlock Gnomes is perhaps lighter in tone and jokes than other animated fare that’s out there currently, but it doesn’t make it any less engaging. There’s a gentleness to the film that isn’t soured by a dependence on pop culture references that will be outdated by the end of the year, or a reliance on ensuring that the adults get a couple of blue jokes to keep them awake. Though admittedly, there are plenty of Holmes references for people to sink their teeth into.

Ultimately, this is a romp around London that just wants to make you laugh and it does so rather successfully. Heck, in this dark period of #metoo confessions, Sherlock Gnomes even manages to throw in a message about consent that is a welcome change from the ‘pursue your crush and you’ll eventually wear them down into liking you’ motif we’re all used to.

Admittedly the whole affair is so light it’s in danger of being taken away with the next breeze, but as an afternoon’s flight of fancy it certainly ticks all the boxes when it comes to charm and humour. It’s just a shame the whole affair is tinged by the presence of the problematic Depp. If you can ignore him, then you’re onto a winner.

What with Elementary, Sherlock and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies to name but a few, it’s quite apparent we’re spoilt for interpretations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth. Sherlock: Case of Evil arose a few years before any of the aforementioned were even a glimmer in Tumblr’s eye, and it could, if one was feeling fair, be said that it paved the way them. Well, it could be, if you chose to believe that Case of Evil was actually any good.

Acting as a sort of Holmes Begins, we meet the young detective (James D’Arcy) dining out on the fame brought to him by killing the nefarious Professor Moriarty (Vincent D’Onofrio). Holmes here is young and dashing, and not immune to a few sins. Namely, alcohol and threesomes with rosy cheeked wenches. Yes, indeedy, this is the sexy Holmes you always wanted, a Holmes full of hope. When he skips into the mortuary of Dr John Watson (Roger Morlidge), the two become wrapped up in a mystery that suggests that Moriarty is still alive being a cad and a shit.

As Case of Evil judders forward, it becomes apparent that the film is less concerned with Holmes tracking down Moriarity and more with providing a revisionist’s idea of how Holmes became the man we know him to be. Think of it like Chris Columbus’ Young Sherlock Holmes, but with more blood and breasts. It’s, at best, a lightweight romp across the cobbles with numerous hideous Holmes references crowbarred in.

Oh yes, the references and in-jokes. It crams them in like battery hens, as if there was a checklist of things they wanted to include in order to meet a quota.

Drug addiction – this is how it happened.

Mistrust of women – this is how it happened.

By the time Holmes is unceremoniously given his pipe and deerstalker, the game of interest is no longer afoot, but well and truly over. There’s something rather insulting about the film trying to convince its audience that one single adventure could provide all the intricacies one human can have.Trying to do its own things whilst adhering to the canon of Doyle is probably where it really lets itself down. In for a penny, in for a pound should have been their war cry. After all, it didn’t really hurt the Asylum’s Sherlock Holmes which turned out to be lots of fun.

There’s also an embarrassing number of jokes in Case of Evil that I now refer to as ‘Hindsight Jokes’. You know the kind; someone in Mad Men will make a comment about one day being able to take your phone everywhere, everyone looks at them like he is indeed a man man, and we are all supposed to stroke our chins and laugh, ‘Ha! He’s predicted mobile phones! Hahaha! I’ve forgotten about my parents’ divorce.’ Well, Case of Evil is chock full of them, really bad ones. Ones that make you wish your head was made of glass simply so you could smash it. ‘Step into the 19th century!’ sneers Moriarty when presented with a Sherlock Holmes ready to swordfight. Sigh.

Bombastic to a fault, I’m not sure if the world has been crying out for a gritty, sexy version of Sherlock Holmes. If it is, then this is not it. Move along, nothing to see.

Mr Holmes (2015)

January 29, 2018 — Leave a comment

The Second World War has recently ended and in a remote Sussex cottage lives a crotchety old man, who wants nothing in life than to live out his final years tending to his bees. His name is Sherlock Holmes.

There are numerous pastiches of Sherlock Holmes to be found in literature and film. There’s the steampunk revisionist adventures of Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law. The bawdy slapstick of Without a Clue saw Michael Caine pretending to the super sleuth. Meanwhile, Young Sherlock Holmes stretched the patience of the heartiest champion of Doyle’s canon. In fact only this year, William Gillete’s 1916 feature Sherlock Holmes was rediscovered and given a home release. Yes, there are many portraits. Most of them sharing a common theme of Holmes in his prime. Which is what makes Mr Holmes immediately stand out from its forbearers.

Played by Ian McKellan, we see the great detective now out to pasture. His once coveted memory failing, he takes to writing names of those people he forgets on his shirt cuffs. He hides himself away from the gawping eyes of those who recognize him from the stories by his late friend, Dr John Watson. As a tonic to the numerous fabrications he found in Watson’s work, Holmes has taken to writing up a case he feels was particularly egregious with the facts.

McKellan is simply exquisite as the sleuth. No longer going up against Moriarty, his greatest enemy is the onset of dementia and a feeling of guilt for a case long forgotten. Using flashbacks, McKellan also plays Holmes in a manner we may be more accustomed to. Ageing but still pompous, this ‘younger’ Holmes is in his element as he cracks the case of a missing wife. The conclusion of which now escapes him in his winter years.

It would be amiss to overlook the virtues of McKellen’s co-stars, Laura Linney and Milo Parker, who play Holmes’ housekeeper, Mrs Munro and her son, Roger respectively. Their scenes together are beautifully written and acted as the mother tries to remind her son of a deceased father he’s too young to remember.

Like the book it was based on – A Slight Trick of the Mind – the second set of flashbacks that see Holmes travel to Japan after the Hiroshima bombing feel superfluous. Whilst Holmes’ interactions with Tamiki Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada) eventually tie into the film’s themes of forgiveness and loss, it feels like it overeggs the pudding.

However, we shouldn’t let trivial matters get in the way of the facts. Mr Holmes is a wonderful, emotional portrait of a character that will be dear to many people. The delicate touch of the screenplay and the strength of the performances on display are a testament not only to an iconic literary character but to the human spirit.

Ms Holmes

All John Watson wanted to do was hit the streets of Manchester and celebrate his birthday. What he didn’t count on was his friend, SH, crashing back into his life after a three year absence.

In a whirlwind 24 hours, John is thrown into a grotesque mystery and learns that SH has more than a few secrets in her knapsack.

Who is Michael?

What’s in the mysterious package left on a Wythenshawe doorstep?

And why exactly can’t Jurassic Park happen?

A modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, fans will appreciate the many nods and tributes to the world’s most famous consulting detective!



Available from:




Barnes and Noble


Ms Holmes: The Alderley Edge Vampire

SH has had enough. John has had enough of SH.

They both want something to kill the monotony of a consultancy dry patch.

Enter the PA for one of Manchester’s newest and brightest authors – The Alderley Edge Vampire.

Join Manchester’s only consulting detective/ex-criminal as she reluctantly jumps feet first into a case of stolen jewellery, gothic writers and the palatial homes of Alderley Edge.

And, as an added bonus, find out why SH has an issue with Stephen Hawking.



Available from:




Barnes and Noble


Ms Holmes: Baskerville

080221-091118When one of SH’s close friends runs away from her abusive father, she follows her to the village of Stepford, which is playing host to the Shadow of the Beast rave.

Plagued with concern for her friend, surrounded by temptation, and with John Watson nowhere to be found, SH looks for guidance and support in the rave’s organiser, Charles Baskerville, and homeless tearaway, Jack.

Told in SH’s own words, Ms Holmes: Baskerville will see Manchester’s only consulting detective facing up against some personal demons and shedding more light on those three years she was away from Watson.

‘I messed up, John. I think I messed up.’



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