It’s always amazed me that Sherlock Holmes has his own independent life. He’s more than Conan Doyle’s creation; he’s his own man, more real than his author.
And it’s not Conan Doyle who changed the world by anticipating modern day forensics, it’s Sherlock Holmes. Extraordinary.
The other night on PBS, a new Sherlock Holmes series was introduced by a fascinating program—”How Sherlock Changed the World.” Well, maybe “the world” was an overstatement, but certainly the world of forensics. The program’s thesis is that before Conan Doyle’s detective came along, criminal investigation relied almost entirely on witnesses and circumstances. Deductive reasoning, careful and close observation, the preservation of the crime scene, splatter analysis, ballistics tests, fingerprinting, the analysis of footprints, poisons…. all of this and more originated with Sherlock. It changed the world of criminal investigation.
And, of course, it changed the world of crime literature.
But Conan Doyle didn’t do it. Sherlock did.