I've been revisiting a series by a favorite author of mine recently. It had been a while since I'd read it, so it's been interesting to return to the books and see if they stand up. I'm happy to report that they do.
The "Holmes on the Range" series is actually good!
Or World's Greatest Sleuth! and On the Wrong Track are, anyway. I haven't gotten to The Black Dove and The Crack in the Lens yet. But I have high hopes.
I'm going through novels #2-#5 in the series to (A) get them ready for re-publishing and (B) get myself ready to write novel #6. What I've learned (or simply remembered) so far:
- They don't suck! Huzzah!
- They are dense. Wow, I packed a lot in. Historical research, Sherlockian references, clues, red herrings, subplots, side characters, word play...yowza. It's reminding me that...
- They were really, really hard to write. My tarot mysteries and kids books and zombie comedies all had their challenges, but the "Holmes on the Range" novels were a special kind of painful. Not only did they have the most complex plots and require the most research, they're written in an idiosyncratic style that is (hopefully) easy to read yet a complete pain in the ass to write. I'm remembering now how difficult it was to come up with all those chapter subheads, for instance. Few things are more agonizing than staring at a computer screen while muttering to yourself "Be funny. Be clever. Be funny. Be clever..."
- They stopped too soon. I had so many plans for these characters. So many ideas for more adventures. So many brain cells I hadn't fried yet trying to be funny and clever. So it's exciting -- if a little daunting -- to be getting back to Big Red and Old Red at last.
It's not just the original novels I'm revisiting as I rev up to revive the series, by the way. I've also been checking back in with all the things that inspired the series in the first place. I've been reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Rex Stout and Agatha Christie. I've been watching Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes and Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot and The Thin Man and Westerns and The (original!) Avengers.
Here's hoping the fun continues even after the brain cells start frying again.
Repeat after me: Be funny. Be clever. Be funny. Be clever...