My fascination with Sherlock Holmes

My fascination with Sherlock Holmes
I learnt to solve mysteries with the super sleuth after outwitting others.

SINGAPORE - Like millions of people around the world, I attempted to keep my cool as Jan 1 drew near.

No, New Year countdowns and fireworks aren't quite my thing. But something much more thrilling was set to unfold on the first day of the year - the return of Sherlock Holmes.

BBC's Sherlock, starring British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as the superintelligent sleuth, is one of my guilty TV pleasures, and its long-awaited third season sent electric shocks through the TV-watching public on New Year's Day.

The modern take on Holmes is as much a homage to the fictional character as it is a tribute to his long-time fans, combining well-picked source material with a contemporary setting and vibe.

Throw in a heady mix of intellect and infectious wit, and you have plenty of competition for the late Jeremy Brett, long regarded as the definitive Holmes.

There is a strange public fascination with the character and the idea of Holmes, a man both mysterious and massmarket. He is a perpetual face in the Guinness World Records as the "most portrayed movie character" - played by more than 70 actors in over 200 films; but never played the same way twice.

Scottish writer and doctor Arthur Conan Doyle managed, somehow, to conjure up a man of paradoxes and conundrums, a man of analytic perfection and intense emotional imperfection, a man so asexual but deeply sought after, serving up detective work with a side of drug use.

And although Holmes was not the first fictional detective to leap from the pages of a novel or short story, rarely has any other wielded such influence over the genre of crime fiction. But my fascination with Holmes didn't begin with him.

As a child, I grew up on a steady diet of Enid Blyton books, with a penchant for those featuring children who could problem-solve and go on rebellious adventures without the help of adults.

The Five Find-Outers and Dog regularly solved crimes ahead of the rather incompetent and bumbling local police constable, and The Secret Seven was a clever society run by children who waded into all sorts of exciting mysteries.

With every crime or mystery novel, there comes the drive to outwit the detective or even the author at his own game.

Even as a child, I was hooked on Blyton's straightforward cases, my mind working overtime to figure out who had sent out poison pen letters or masterminded a kidnapping or theft. I had soon devoured them all and needed something a little more complex and satisfying for my tweenage tastes.

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