I was reminded of this today because I've been thinking about Sherlock. I watched the first of the new series yesterday. Hitherto I'd been avoiding reviews and twitter and stuff for I hate spoilers. But on catching up it's clear some people felt tricked.
Me, I was delighted. For I had solved the puzzle - well, sort of. When the last series finished on its modern take on the Reichenbach Falls, I was listening to a radio discussion of how Sherlock would escape from certain death. Preposterous theories were aired. In its own way it gripped the nation in exactly the same way as the original did. For those who don't know Conan Doyle really did kill off Holmes at the Falls, but public outcry made him resurrect him.
Moffat and Gattis deserve enormous credit for managing to not only update Holmes so successfully but to repeat the public outcry. Speaking about the twist, one of them was quoted as saying,
"There's something everyone is missing."
I listened to this, whilst grating cheese or something, and I remember saying to the radio and a salivating dog
"Yes, he's a fictional character,"
before spoiling my genius by going on to dream up my own wildly implausible scenario as to how he'd escaped certain death.
My solution need not detain us, but the fact that well-told stories and well-drawn characters become real should. Us writers anyway. I find the disappointment in certain sectors of the public that there's a fictional solution to a fictional problem both perverse and uplifting. And I say this as someone who has just published a novel that required me to make a life-like figure out of someone who was already dead. Fictionally.