Recently I’ve been writing about my favorite armchair detective, Nero Wolfe, whom I consider to be in the same league as a detective as the much more famous Sherlock Holmes. Today I want to spotlight another detective, who, while he may not be in the same league as those two, still deserves a bit of a spotlight and serves as a reminder that even though Mr. Holmes may be the most famous of the Victorian-era detectives, he is far from the only one operating or being written about in that era.
One of those other detectives is Thomas Carnacki, otherwise known as the Ghost-Finder.
Carnacki is the creation of writer William Hope Hodgson, and appeared in a series of six short stories published between 1910 and 1912 in The Idler magazine and The New Magazine. Unlike Holmes, however, Carnacki’s adventures, as is perhaps obvious from the Ghost Finder subtitle, usually involved the supernatural in some way or another. I say usually, because in at least a couple of circumstances, it is discovered that there actually is no supernatural instance involved, thus leaving the reader unsure until the end whether this is the case or not, which adds to the suspense of the stories.
The structure of each of the stories tends to be quite similar. In each of them Carnacki invites four friends, including Dodgson from whose perspective the stories are told, to dinner at his flat in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, England. At the end of the dinner, everyone settles into their chairs, and Carnacki relates his latest exploit. At the end of the tale, Carnacki may entertain a few questions, but he usually does not go any further into an explanation than he already has.
Though it seems as though the character of Carnacki and his stories might be ripe for development as a television series, or a series of movies, as far as I can tell, the only adaptation that has been made thus far is as an episode of the two-season BBC series The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. This adaptation of the story The Horse of the Invisible stars Donald Pleasance as Carnacki.
Check it out and see what you think: