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Paul in the UK Pt. 2: Sherlock and Me

· mysteries,Travel

Over spring break, my family visited the U.K., and you can read about our visit to Stonehenge. We also went to the Sherlock Holmes museum.

Now, I've loved murder mysteries as long as I can remember. I grew up with Danny Dunn, Scientific Detective (hey, somebody, put this series back in print!) and the Encyclopedia Brown series. And one of the series I've read and reread and reread again is, of course, Sherlock Holmes.

Many people think that the Sherlock Holmes stories were the genesis of the detective story. However, the first English-language detective story was written by Edgar Allan Poe almost 50 years before Sherlock: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," starring detective C. Auguste Dupin. (And of course many detective stories pre-date Poe, although scholars debate whether some of the early stories meet the right criteria.)

There's no doubt, though, that Holmes had an incredible impact on popular culture—the Sherlock and Holmes characters "transcend time," as Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss put it. In a decade that has seen two blockbuster movies and two critically-acclaimed television shows based on Sherlock, it's hard to argue that point.

And so on a gorgeous morning in April, my family and I walked from our rental off Edgware Road (above a really amazing Egyptian restaurant called Ahl Cairo that you should definitely try) past the Marylebone rail station to 221B Baker Street.

Since the museum is for a fictional character, there really isn't a whole lot there that's historical. There are a lot of objects that were created to resemble things in the books, but there aren't any props from the movies. Not only that, the space is pretty small, and the rooms are absolutely packed with objects (and in a few cases, staged mannequins) meant to reveal scenes from the stories.

Not all of these stagings are in the best taste; there's a severed thumb, for example (from "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"), and the mannequins are positioned rather awkwardly, eliciting more giggles than shock from the visitors.

Although I enjoyed myself there, my family—who have watched the occasional episode of BBC's Sherlock or CBS's Elementary—were not very impressed, and even I have to say it was pretty cheesy. Unless you're a huge Sherlock fan, you can give the tour a miss. Honestly, it was more gratifying to walk through the gift shop and get a Sherlock Holmes T-shirt.

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Top: Dr. Watson's desk; Middle: the iconic address; Bottom: Paul in Sherlock's study