"Somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, there is a travel-worn and battered tin dispatch-box with my name, John H. Watson, M.D., painted upon the lid. It is crammed with papers, nearly all of which are records of cases to illustrate the curious problems which Mr. Sherlock Holmes has at various times to examine."

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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