The world is full of unsolved mysteries. Why did Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s deputy, take the huge personal risk of flying to Great Britain solo when he had nothing to say when he arrived? I’d read several books about it but never found one that explained it satisfactorily. Why would Macbeth kill King Duncan when the three witches had told him that destiny had determined that he would be king? Accounts of the historical Macbeth portray him as rather a sympathetic figure, so which was right? And why do some industries develop so that there are only three or four dominant players? I have spent years working for large companies without ever putting my mind to sorting out why.
I have a long and crowded commute into work. For many years I have spent it trying to deduce things about my fellow travelers. My heart leapt when the man next to me answered his mobile with a New Zealand accent after I had deduced his nationality from the silver fern engraved on his cufflinks. But such triumphs are rare and I instead gave thought to how else the Great Baker Street Detective might make my journey easier. Why not, it struck me one day, combine my love of Sherlock Holmes with investigation of mysteries like the ones above?
The planning could be done on the train, the writing at home. The mysteries I had. I was sure the solutions would come to me.
Needless to say, propounding the mystery was much easier than finding a solution that was both convincing and original. Nevertheless I have a forensic mind, an unwillingness to settle for easy answers, and the ability, honed by years (and years) of reading Sherlock Holmes, of imitating the Conan Doyle style. And above all I had time – hours and hours of it – on the train and the tube.
I believe my stories are ideal for a commute. At 8,500 words they take about twenty minutes to read. I confess to a slightly sadistic hope that some commuters will be so anxious to find the solution that they miss their stop. I shall be gutted if nobody tries to pick holes either in my accuracy in portraying Holmes or in my solutions to the mysteries that I have used Holmesian methods to solve. (On www.OrlandoPearson.com since you asked where you should express your views). To demonstrate that I relish an argument, my on-line stories include Holmes’s investigation into The Resurrection, his involvement in a tragedy that mixes accountancy and incest, and his rediscovery of a neglected musical genius whose work had been in complete obscurity for one hundred years before Sherlock Holmes became involved.
My friends ask me: "Where is Holmes now?"
Well, he has just been to Vienna on another musical mystery and is segueing via some extremely contemporary political events in London, to Berlin in the 1930’s.
"And where will he go next?"
Well, I’ll tell you after the next time the Jubilee line plays up (again).
The Redacted Sherlock Holmes by Orlando Pearson (published 8th December 2015 Clink Street Publishing) is available to buy online from retailers including amazon.co.uk and can be ordered from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.orlandopearson.com