Today I’m going to knowingly go to see what many would consider a bad movie. The movie is Expendables 2, what I’m sure will be a silly, over-the-top action flick featuring a virtual Cannonball Run of action movie stars, old and new. Not being a movie reviewer, I get to choose what movies I see, and I usually see movies that suit my own particular tastes, for better or worse. I feel the same way about Sherlock Holmes books.
When you’ve had a Sherlock Holmes blog or website out there for a decent amount of time, people really want you to promote their novels about the great detective. Now that Sherlock Peoria has moved to Blogger and allows comments, I even had somebody try to promote their book in the comments of an unrelated post last week . . . a downright sneaky move if ever I saw one. But given what I know about most Sherlock Holmes pastiches from decades of trying to read them, I hold little hope for any novel of Holmes that shows up promoted by the author.
Self-promoted Sherlock novels always make me wonder if anyone else has read the thing yet. I don’t want to be the first canary in that coal mine, outside of the author’s friends and family . . . who are obviously used to the mental atmosphere of the writer . . . to see if the fictional air is breathable. And new writers really don’t want to take their chances with a cranky old Sherlockian like me reading their stuff.
The mistake made by most neophyte writers of Sherlock stuff is that any fan of Sherlock Holmes is going to feel excited to read their personal version of a Holmes tale. Yes, I like Sherlock Holmes. A lot. But I can enjoy a silly movie like Expendables 2 with lower expectations because I really don’t have standards for how well Sylvester Stallone’s latest character shoots people. With Sherlock Holmes, I expect better. And even if a book is that one-in-a-thousand great read, it still has to find a way to stand apart from the nine hundred and ninety-nine other first-time Holmes novels people are trying to push on me every single day.
I’m always trying to find something fresh to put in the blog, yes, but there are some sacrifices I am just not willing to make. There is definitely a great opening for an experienced Sherlockian willing to give honest opinions about every single story of Sherlock Holmes published these days. The task will require a bit of spending money, a very rapid reading speed, and a very strong will. I doubt many happy volunteers for that post exist.
But it definitely won’t be me reading Sherlock Holmes and the Cumberbatch Castle Mystery. I’d rather go see Expendables 2.