July 9, 2012

I was watching a re-run of a series on TV called The Agency.  Some of the story lines were controversial but the acting and the stories were very good.  Then came an episode when the heroine and hero were both in a perilous situation and it looked like they might be killed.  I waited for the next episode.  It did not come.  I thought I missed it so I shrugged and got on with other things, watched and read other stories.

Then the TV channel decided to run the series again giving me a chance to catch up with episodes I had missed.  When it came to that last episode I knew what was to happen so I skipped it and eagerly waited for the next.  It did not come.

I googled the programme name, “The Agency” and found out that the episode was the last in the series.  The TV Company had decided to axe it.  I deduced that the writers wrote the ending hoping that there would be such a clamour from the public wanting to know what had happened it would return for another season.  This is not without precedent.  Conan Doyle had tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes but such was the outcry and demand that he lived on.  It may be that the writers of The Agency thought the Company would ask them to make more episodes but the way commerce works means that this did not happen.

So I was left with what I thought was an unsatisfactory ending.  Many of us readers, listeners and watchers have experienced this.  A classic example can be heard in an old Tony Hancock sketch called the Last Page in which the final page of a paperback “Whodunit” was missing.  Only yesterday on Radio 4 I heard that Hemmingway was so undecided about the conclusion to “A Farewell to Arms” he wrote forty-seven different endings.

Recently, a friend commenting on my novel “Victim of Compromise” told me he liked it but found the ending unsatisfactory.  I thought about what he had said and mused whether I should have made the ending more of a climax.  However, I felt that the story had reached an appropriate conclusion whether satisfactory or not.

No one really likes endings.  It is the story that matters.  A good story means that everyone wants to know what happens next and that is the way it is with life.



Books That Inspire – Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

July 26, 2010

Sherlock Holmes is arguably the greatest fictional character ever created.  He is the original master detective able to outwit and bring to justice the most devious criminals.  His creator Arthur Conan Doyle became a major innovator in the field of crime writing using forensic science and painstaking methods of deduction to thwart Holmes adversaries and astound his readers.  His model of the clever detective has been copied by countless crime writers ever since, but the power of the original character lives on.

The new BBC series, “Sherlock”, is a case in point but it must be hoped that Monday’s episode, “A Study in Pink”, will drive audiences back to the original title where “pink” is “scarlet”.

Conan Doyle’s collection of short stories under the title “Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” was meant to be the last featuring the famous detective.  It is ironic that the penultimate adventure in this series, “The Navel Treaty,” featured the town Woking, home of Peatmore Press, as the final story describes the confrontation between Holmes and his arch enemy Moriarty above the Reichenbach Falls, since it inspired a similar scene in Peatmore’s first publication, “Cogrill’s Mill”.

The final story, called the Final Problem, was also Conan Dole’s Problem as he wished to be rid of his tiresome creation.  But such was the public clamour on reading of Sherlock Holmes’s demise that he was forced to bring him back to life.  Thus the character became transformed from mere hero to a literary god.



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