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Killing Off Mystery Characters

Updated on December 7, 2014

Holmes, Dead and Alive

This crime novel combines a set of famous characters and a reference to Dr. House with aplomb and humor. Thomas Carnacki the Ghost Finder, from the 19th Century, becomes entwined with Anna Moriarity, Professor James Moriarity (her father), Dr. John H. Watson, Jack the Ripper, the Paris Ripper, and an amesic Sherlock Holmes just recused from an ice cold bath at Reichenbach Falls.

This is what happened between Holmes's salvation from the freezing waters and his appearance in places such as Tibet before returning to London.

The return of Sherlock Holmes in the person of Jeremy Brett to Edward Hardwicke's Dr. John H. Watson in the 1990s BBC TV series was a gem. The fainting away of the good doctor was sublime as he spied the dead Holmes standing across the room for the first time in three years.

Scenes like these are so entertaining as to make viewers wish for a real Holmes and Watson. These fans are as hooked on the Great Detective as Trekkers are to the Star TrekĀ® universe. Too bad that we don't all have people in our lives that take such a part of our hearts as Holmes and Watson, but there it is


Killing Off Characters

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Holmes, but the public would have none of it and he brought Sherlock back. Writers tire of their characters and of coming up with new stories about them. Agatha Christie was so tired of Hercule Poirot she was at times filled with the desire to get rid of him.

Lilian Jackson Braun regularly kills off readers' favorite characters or sends them packing across the globe for a good long while, at least. In one interview, she stated that these people simply had to go.

Agatha herself wished that Margery Alleringham had written many more novels and stories about Albert Campion - so do I.

I wish that Tamar Myers could write more Magdelena Yoder mystery, but it is time for other things, like her tales of Africa, based on her childhood as a missionary. Correction -- Another such novel appeared lately from a publisher in the UK. Meyers set the story as a rebuttal to her last book in the series, the latest one written by the "real" author against the "fake" author opf the last book. Very entertaining.

John Robert King

Yes - House, MD is based on the Holmes stories.
Yes - House, MD is based on the Holmes stories.


J. Robert King The RPG King- pun intended - brought back Carnacki the Ghost Hunter and put him the start of his career, in Switzerland. He then made Professor James Moriarty into a realistic,lovable person with a genius wife and genius daughter before Jack the Ripper collided with the family. The meeting between James and his future wife Anna would make an awesomely grand Christmas card and the whole book is worth reading for that one crystalline beautiful scene alone. I don't know how he thought of the image.

The whole story weaves together history, fiction, gore, and comedy - and the actual notes sent to the police by the Ripper are included. The victims enter the story in believable places. The departure of an amnesic Holmes as the Paris Ripper is as wonderful as it is insane. The concept of Jack the Ripper plays up Conan's Doyle belief in an afterlife and spirits and strikes it hard against Holmes's skepticism. This part is interesting.

In the latter portions of the story, Carnacki needs medical help and Watson happens to be at hand. The doctor gets him to a veteran's hospital in Paris where Carnacki is attended by Dr.Maison - Dr. House, in English. What a play! TV's House is built on Sherlock Holmes, who is built on Conan Doyle's first medical instructor - a genius of deduction. This story is one of coming full circle-and-a-half through history had fiction. One could lose one's sense of reality in its pages and wig off in search of Holmes in Europe.

Novels from J. Robert King, RPG Designer

Amnesia, Not Death

The most humorous portions of the novel lie in part in Sherlock's amnesic state. He takes the name of the tailor form the tag inside his suit coat - Mr. Silence. He doesn't know who he is, but he can still deduce everything else in the world.

Other humor bursts forth from Carnacki's manipulation of the press in order to goad the Paris Ripper into the open. This is funnier. One such article made me laugh out loud and drop the book. The story goes on to include a skeleton chasing people around an infirmary.

This book is historical fiction, spread thick toward the fiction end of the spectrum and engaging. It is a rolicking good time. There is a gateway widely open at the end for a sequel and I hope we get one soon.

Thank you, Messers King, Hogsdon, and Conan Doyle. I am laughing.

Tales of the Supernatural

William Hope Hodgson created the supernatural detective Thomas Carnacki, mainly of the World War I era. A few of the Carnacki stories did not see publication until WWII, however.

Mr. Hodgson lived from November 1877 until April 1918 and was a late Victorian Era author of poetry, essays, crime, and the supernatural. John R. King - more often known as J. Robert King in his designing work for the worlds of Dungeons and Dragons and similar RPGs - is intrigued by both the supernatural of Carnacki and others and by Sherlock Holmes and so we have King's The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls, published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC in 2008.

Mr. King also wrote Mad Merlin in English and French, and Le Morte d'Avalon set in the Aurthurian universe. His accomplishments in the world of RPG gaming are incredible and the move to novels is a double accomplishment. The hardback book Reichenbach Falls is like a role playing game one can hold directly in one's hands as it unfolds itself and one's imagination. Thus he's combined two art forms and the book is less gimmicky than some graphic novels based on RPGs or the other way 'round. Read it soon!


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    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      I shall def seek him out and enjoy a good read, from the sounds of it - Thanks!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Caleb Carr created Dr. Kreizler in The Alienist series historical fiction (3rd book in the works), who is a combination of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes in one, with additional personality traits. In The Italisn Secretary, Carr uses Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes with Dr. Watson and the three are pretty funny at times. They investigate a supposed ghost from the reign of Mary Stuart; and Queen Victoria figures prominently as well.

      The Alienist books are set in 1890s NYC and include the Doctor (an early psychologist), NY Times reporter John Moore, feminist Sara Howard who carries a derringer, 12-13 year-old Stevie Taggart (former burglar), Cyrus Montrose, Teddy Roosevelt, and several famous personalitites in each story. The 2 books are long, but read quickly, contain accurately detailed histoy, and make me laugh out loud.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      O, my, I practically cut my teeth on them, along with Hammett, MacDonald, Spillane, etc., but my first detectives were Doyle, Christie, and the tales of Maigret, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford (long before the series), Miss Marple, Poirot...ahh, and of course, G.K. Chesterton (adored Father Brown). Not familiar with the name, Caleb Carr, but it does ring a bell dimmly - who are his characters?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      RedEfl - You like Cool and Lam too! I just found two I have not read in the back shelves of the used book store here. Pretty entertaining. Have you read the Caleb Carr book - The Italian Secretary?

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

      This title is so intriguing I had to come and read! I am a big Holmes fan, as well as most of the other writers you mention. So nice you know all my favs, too - even the rather quirky (for their time) Bertha Coll and Donald Lam.

      Thanks for a fascinating glimpse - I am off in pursuit of some new reading material.

      Actually, this gives me a great idea for my next HubNuggets hub, unless you are planning to do a Holmes and Watson?

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      I hope my book will get this kind of review ! Great review !

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Enelle - Do read it; the news blurbs in the last 1/3 will make you ROFL. I am re-reading the sections of Dr. Maison right now.

      Hello, hello - Really, this would make a good film as well, since the author does RPG games. Hope he makes it happen.

      Woody - Madcap, that's it!

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You peeked my interest by the mere mention of Holmes,Reichenbach Sounds like a fun cornucopia of mystery,sleuthing and gaming,with a dash of the madcap. Sounds good to me!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Very good review and great hub.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 7 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      What a great review Patty - makes me want to rush right out and buy the book! I'm sure I read every Holmes novel written, as well as all of Agatha's books :)