What would the world’s greatest detective be like if he could step out of the pea souper smogs of Victorian London and into the modern age?
How would a world of smartphones, computers, television and international flights affect a character conceived in a world of telegrams, blackboards, music hall and steam ships?
It’s a question that has been asked by the makers of Sherlock, the hugely popular TV series, and Elementary, which took the same idea and moved it to New York.
Now a county author has published her own take on the most famous fictional detective of all time, bringing the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, first published in 1887, firmly up-to-date in the London of 2014.
In ‘Charlie Milverton and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories’ Charlotte Anne Walters takes five of Conan Doyle’s original tales and brings them very much up-to-date so that Holmes is now working in a world inhabited by Premier league footballers, the paparazzi and glamour models.
But while the characters are very different, Holmes’ modus operandi is very much the same as that employed by Conan Doyle 130 years ago.
Charlotte, aged 35, a recruitment manager from Shifnal, explains: “For me, what has always stood out about the original 56 Sherlock Holmes stories is the friendship between the detective and his ever-faithful friend Doctor Watson – this is timeless and something readers from any generation can associate with.
“Holmes’ methods of deduction and observation are also a key element to the stories and this can be easily upgraded to the 21st century – whether this is ‘disguising’ himself as someone else on Facebook to extract information from a missing girl or taking advantage of British and American extradition agreements to bring justice on a baddie.
“What makes Holmes different to most fictional sleuths is the fact that he is unofficial, unconventional and more than a little eccentric. All qualities which transfer well to the modern age.
“There are currently various high-profile Sherlock Holmes TV dramas and films in the media and all of them use elements from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but I wanted to write something which stuck a bit closer to what Doyle created and see how that would translate to our modern world.
“So I took five individual stories and simply changed the settings and themes to current equivalents.
“So, for example, an eligible aristocratic young man marrying a wealthy American becomes a premiership footballer marrying a glamour model for publicity.
“A blackmailer preying on titled debutants using love letters passed on by untrustworthy servants becomes an ex-tabloid editor who acquires video tapes of celebrities in uncompromising situations and threatens to sell them to the gutter press.
“I have a bit of fun with it too – poking gentle fun at certain aspects of the modern psyche like our obsession with celebrities, cosmetic surgery, TV talent shows and the ever-growing industry surrounding our compensation culture.
“I also wanted to look at what sort of a person Doctor Watson would be today.
“What would be today’s equivalent of a middle-of-the-row doctor trying to write stories in between patients? Someone working for compensation lawyers signing off crash-for-cash ‘victims’ while dreaming of a life-changing publishing deal perhaps?”
Charlotte is no stranger to the world of Sherlock Holmes, having had two previous book published – ‘Barefoot on Baker Street’, her debut novel, in 2011 and ‘56 Stories in 56 Days’, a collection of blogs, last year.
‘Charlie Milverton and Other Sherlock Holmes stories’ (published by MX Publishing) is available both in paperback (£7.99) and electronic formats (£5.99), but each of the short stories is also available to but individually via Kindle for £1.99.
The paperback is available from Waterstone’s and other bookshops or can be ordered online via Amazon.