"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, March 2, 2014

The quest for a second Solution

As I revealed in my last post, my first experience of Sherlock Holmes in print was not the Canon, but a pastiche, The Seven Per-Cent-Solution by Nicholas Meyer. Of course, in the 1970s this was a pretty good choice of pastiche, so I might not be as ashamed of this as I'm pretending to be.

After reading the Meyer, I did begin to pick up the Doyle collections and started to give the Canon a proper read. But I craved another post-modern pastiche novel in the style of Solution. Luckily, because of the success of the Meyer book (which was also made into a film), my local Waldenbooks had quite a few of these to choose from. The first two I came away with were The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin and Exit Sherlock Holmes by Robert Lee Hall.

What drew me to these two paperbacks was the cover art. These are exactly the kinds of covers a budding young Sherlockian would be attracted to (I still like them). Also, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story promised an encounter with Jack The Ripper, so that was pretty irresistible.

While these did not live up to the level of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, I still enjoyed them both. They are well-written adventures with their own revisionist "twists." (SPOILERS AHEAD.) In The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, the great detective turns out to actually be Jack The Ripper(!). In Exit Sherlock Holmes he's revealed to be a time traveler.

While I didn't really care for the twist in Last (Holmes cannot be a murderer), the time travel element in Exit Sherlock Holmes is handled better than you would expect, and I've always though this novel would make an interesting Sherlock Holmes film.

Title: The Last Sherlock Holmes Story
Author: Michael Dibdin
Year: 1979
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Purchase: Amazon.

Title: Exit Sherlock Holmes
Author: Robert Lee Hall
Year: 1979
Publisher: Playboy Press
Purchase: Amazon.

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)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A tin dispatch box with my name on it

I have no business starting a blog about Sherlock Holmes. My true passion is Harry Houdini, and I run a blog devoted to the escape king called WILD ABOUT HARRY. But I really love Holmes, and I was a minor Sherlockian even before I discovered the magic of Houdini. I'm not a scholar, but I do enjoy keeping up with the latest Holmesian happenings, and over the years I've collected a few gems, primarily pastiche paperbacks, that I would like to share here. I'm also starting this blog because my name really is Cox, John Cox, and I couldn't resist the name. So, like it or not, here is yet another Sherlock Holmes website: Cox & Company. I welcome you.

UPDATE: I've changed the name of this blog to The Battered Tin and have decided to focus on the pastiche adventures of Holmes and Watson -- "cases for which the world was not yet prepared." Hope you enjoy.

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