Remember this theme music? If, like me, you spent many an evening in your childhood glued to PBS Mystery‘s broadcasts of the fantastic old Granada Sherlock Holmes adventures starring the inimitable Jeremy Brett, it triggers a sort of Pavlovian surge of anticipation and endorphin release. I’d half forgotten I had the full run in my closet until it came up in conversation with a handful of friends late last week, setting me off on a bit of a bender. I don’t doubt but that the choice of journalism as a vocation was influenced in some way by the dim memory of that brilliant eccentric stitching together an elaborate story from a few scraps of evidence and long threads of inference. I’ve never had occasion to wear an elaborate disguise or engage in a singlestick duel, but the the enterprises are otherwise not all that different.
Naturally, this set off some idle Googling in search of Holmesiania, and I was tickled to discover fantasist par excellence Neil Gaiman’s wonderful short story “A Study in Emerald,” one of a surprising number of fictions that mashes up Conan Doyle’s Holmes universe with the Cthulu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. You can download a free audiobook version of Gaiman reading the story from Audible. There’s an ingenious twist—the identities of several key characters are not what the reader is initially led to assume—though you have to be a bit of a fan of the original stories to piece it together.