The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes review – a history of Holmes appreciation

Benedict Cumberbatch’s sleuth is striking but every era has had their own version of the fictional detective as Mattias Boström’s lively study shows

This study by Swedish Sherlock Holmes expert Mattias Boström, translated by Michael Gallagher, shows that, perhaps more than any other fictional character, the consulting detective from 221B Baker Street has eclipsed his creator, and gained a life of his own. From his first appearance together with his sidekick Dr Watson in 1887, Holmes captured the hearts of readers around the world, from US presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman (both members of the Baker Street Irregulars, an association of American Sherlockians who have met since 1934) to the countless parodists and authors who have written themselves under the skin of this beguiling crime fighter. They include Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who brilliantly reimagined Sherlock for the 21st century. As Boström says, “every era had its own Sherlock ...