Sunday, February 23, 2014

The case of the non-canonical seduction

Here's another reason that I have no business starting a Sherlock Holmes blog; but I suppose this is something I need to confess up front. My first experience of Holmes was not the Canon. In fact, I came to Doyle late. My first experience of Sherlock Holmes in print was a pastiche novel: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer.


Now, in my defense, this is a great novel. And it was a sensation of its day, a New York Times Bestseller. And while there had been Sherlock Holmes pastiche novels before this book, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was the one that kicked off the tidal wave of Holmes pastiche mash-up adventures that continues to this day. (The mash-up here being Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud.)

Part of what made this book special was that Meyer wrote it as John Watson and presented it as a lost adventure with himself credited only as "editor." Today that is almost the standard way to present a Holmes pastiche, but this was a pretty original idea back in 1974 when the book came out. I'm not Holmes expert enough to know whether Meyer was the very first person to write a Holmes novel in the voice of John Watson, but he might have been. He also brilliantly turns the Moriarty story on its head, and shows us Holmes as a drug addict, but you know all this.

Pictured above is my cherished signed first edition hardcover. No, it's not Doyle; but I think Meyer's book could be the most significant non-canonical work of them all. It certainly seduced me into the world of Baker Street.

Title: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution
Author: Nicholas Meyer
Year: 1974
Publisher: E.P. Dutton & Co.
Purchase: Amazon.

Also see: The West End Horror (1976)

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