During a morning trip to the local Barnes & Noble for some last-minute reading material, a display for "30-Second" books was one of the first things I came across. 30-Second Philosophies, 30-Second Religion, 30-Second Architecture, 30-Second Ancient Rome . . . the list went on and on. Thirty seconds to learn about a subject? That's like instant knowledge! Who wouldn't find that attractive?
My mind immediately went to a 30-Second Sherlock Holmes . . . and then I went, "No, wait . . ."
A 30-Second Sherlock Holmes? Are you kidding me?
Long before Steve Doyle gave us Sherlock Holmes for Dummies, many a Sherlockian took one look at that popular "for Dummies" series and its competitor "Idiot's Guides" and went, "We need a Sherlock Holmes one of those." Just like you'd always hear, "We need a new annotated," at Holmes conferences before Les Klinger took on that one. But Steve did the work, got a broadly-encompassing guide to Sherlock Holmes out under that Dummies banner, and we're all the better for it.
But a 30-Second Sherlock Holmes?
The concept of those books is like holding your nose and gulping down bad-tasting medicine. "Get it over with, as quick and painless as possible," that sort of thing. And is that the sort of attitude any fan, or potential fan, of Sherlock Holmes would come at the Canon with?
There have been companions and guides to Sherlock Holmes before that give you synopses of the stories, but they always seemed like a reminder reference for those who had already read the sixty tales. The thought of a work designed to get somebody up to speed who really didn't want to read the original stories . . . well it's kind of like that weird old sci-fi notion of taking your whole meal in pill form. Is that any way to live?
So I kind of hope that no peppy Sherlockians out there are eager to sign up to write a Holmes book under this latest banner. The resulting "30-Second Sherlockians" might not be anyone we'd want to have dinner with.