Elliot Pattinson is a young Englishman seeking to follow in the footsteps of great scientific minds such as Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name but a few.

To do this, he has come to China to study under the tutelage of the great Dr Wang. The young Englishman has already proven himself to be exceptionally gifted and now he sets out to prove that he is also a man of determination and focus, with the aid of Dr Wang and his many eccentric students. Together they will probe the mysteries of the Orient and help to expose the truth behind the myths and stereotypes that surround the Chinese people.

Mysterious Orient

The first season of the American television series The Handmaid’s Tale explores the aftermath of a pandemic that sweeps the globe. Amidst the collapsed social fabric and broken systems, a battle for power and control erupts between the mighty and the meek. In this season one finale, we follow the journey of Offred, a Handmaid in the service of the great Lord Asher. Her duties include being a wife, mother and handmaid to Commander Waterford’s children.

As the show opens, Offred is tending to the needs of a young child. Suddenly, a raucous shout goes up — the child has discovered a radio. In an effort to shut it down, Offred uses her knee to keep the squalling child still while she searches for the source of the unwanted noise. When she finds it, she realizes that it is a small and easily concealed radio. Frightened, she tries to hush the child again.

The camera pans upwards to show a young Elliot Pattinson looking down at Offred from above. For a moment, he stares at her in silence. He then speaks, his voice deep and resonant:

“Offred, I offer you a choice. You can stay with this man and pretend that you are happy, that you want to be his wife, that you want to have his children. Or, you can return to your own people and live a life of freedom, dignity, and responsibility.”

If there is a scene that encapsulates the essence of The Handmaid’s Tale, it is this one. Offred is beautiful and strong, and she makes a choice that is both brave and pragmatic. She decides to stay and bear the children of Waterford out of love rather than out of duty. For this, she will be cast out of her community and perhaps even society at large. There will be no going back. Yet in the end, Offred’s choice serves a higher purpose. Despite the threat of being shamed, ostracized, and even killed for stepping out of line, she will go on to help lead others in overthrowing the regime that oppresses her people. There will be no going back for any of them. Their fates will be decided in the struggle for equality and justice that defines the next phase of humanity’s development.

Great Detective Work

Sherlock Holmes is best known for his great detective work and his uncanny insight. His clients came from far away places like Bohemia Town, South Africa, and the Andaman Islands, and the cases were usually baffling. Sherlock Holmes became a byword for brilliant deduction and logical reasoning, and his name still crops up frequently in casual conversations. People will often joke about Sherlock Holmes, but very few people know what it takes to be a great detective. In the 2014 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sherlock Holmes expounds:

“It is a fascinating problem, don’t you think? What is the most efficient way to discover the truth? If we examine each stage of an investigation, it is possible to determine how Sherlock Holmes would go about solving it. First, you gather all the facts you can. The next step is to eliminate all the possibilities except for one — and the last step is to prove your theory by solving the problem.”

The legendary detective’s methods were a subject of fascination, and his example still inspires students, investigators, and even the occasional amateur sleuth. As an educational resource, Dr Wang’s blog post series on the topic provides a comprehensive framework for anyone interested in creating a thorough, step-by-step guide to properly investigating a case. The cases that Dr Wang tackles on his blog are frequently baffling, and they require a rigorous approach and an intimate understanding of the subject matter. To the great detective’s credit, he often arrived at conclusions that were both surprising and illuminating. The point is that even now, a century after Sherlock Holmes’ heyday, his methods live on.

A Real Hercule Poirot

Hercule Poirot is the brilliant Belgian detective who stars in many of Agatha Christie’s famous novels. Although based on an Englishman named Hercule, Poirot is as much a product of his native Belgium as he is of Great Britain. He solves cases using his acute observational skills as well as his flair for presenting the unexpected. His methods are unique in that he will often interrogate suspects, seeking both the truth and the justice that the Truth will set him free.

In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which was released in 1914, Hercule Poirot is asked to look into the suspicious death of a young Englishman named Roger Ackroyd. The case takes him to West Africa, where he uncovers a sinister plot to destabilize the entire region. In the end, he solves the case, but not without grave danger to his own life. In an open letter to Agatha Christie on the centenary of her famous detective’s first appearance, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote:

“You may think that it is strange for a man of my years to praise so young a woman as yourself. But I can tell you that in doing so I am not imitating the young man with the moustache, I am simply thinking, as I so often do, of Hercule Poirot. It is only when you have really known a man, loved a woman, and seen a good deal of life, that you can understand the whole psychology of the little grey cells that sit between the ears.”

Doyle was referring to Poirot’s great acumen as a detective, and also to his romantic entanglements. It is this aspect of his character that most endearingly makes him a romantic lead and sets him apart from the great Sherlock Holmes, who was a friend and mentor to the Belgian detective. Agatha Christie herself said in an interview: “I think he is one of the three great modern detectives, along with Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. He is the romantic one. When you read his stories, you feel that he is describing something that really happened.”

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is credited with much of the 20th century’s most important literary works. Born in South Africa, he moved to England at a young age and was educated at the prestigious Royal Naval College in Greenwich. After gaining an education, he decided to make a living from writing. He began with short stories and then moved on to novels. One of the most famous creations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is Sherlock Holmes, the legendary detective.

In an open letter to Christie on the 100th anniversary of the detective’s first case, Doyle wrote:

“I have been asked many times if I still think of Sherlock Holmes…I do not actually think of him so very often, and when I do I find myself wondering if he would make the same diagnosis, if he would be able to reconstruct things the way they were….But enough of my musing, Dear Lady Agatha, let us talk about you”.

As mentioned above, Conan Doyle was a great believer in education, and he felt that anyone could benefit from knowing how he went about solving crimes. In his letters to Christie, he often provides readers with valuable insight into the process of detecting. In the letter above, he refers to “my musing,” a term that refers to unproductive thinking. He goes on to say: “I have done all the practical work, now it is up to you to imagine the solution and I to find it.” To this end, Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes Handbook, which provided detailed walkthroughs for each of the famous detective’s cases. Students, enthusiasts, and even experienced sleuths have used these handbooks as essential research tools, and they continue to be popular over a hundred years later. In many ways, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes remains to this day the world’s most popular detective. His sagacious thinking and charming banter both captivated audiences and continue to excite modern-day fans interested in seeing what all the hubbub is about.