The title of this British documentary is something of a cheat. After all, the man who murdered Sherlock Holmes is also the man who created him: Arthur Conan Doyle, the Scottish physician who found unlikely fame and unprecedented fortune as the creator of the world’s most popular consulting detective.
The inspiration for Holmes’ distinctive personality and pronounced idiosyncrasies was inspired by numerous early influences in Doyle’s life, and the film suggests (albeit with no evidence) that the ragamuffin kids of Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars were a reflection of Doyle’s childhood friends.
However, the success of the Holmes canon ultimately irritated Doyle, who was eager to explore other literary subjects. He killed off the detective in his 1891 story “The Adventure of the Final Problem.” But Doyle was forced to bring back Holmes following extraordinary public demand – as a result, Doyle was primarily known for the detective stories and not for his forays into literary fiction.
While the film scrapes gently across unusual aspects of Doyle’s life, particularly his passion for spiritualism, it is far more interested in trying to link aspects of the author’s experiences to the Holmes series. This film, curiously, was released without an on-screen director credit; an on-screen narrator, Richard Jones, barrels his way around Edinburgh and London while Doyle historians and historic re-enactments fill in the aspects.
For any Sherlock Holmes fan, the film provides an entertaining back story.