Author: Nicholas Meyer
First Published: 1974
Publisher: EP Dutton
I suspect I should probably preface this with an apology. Most of my reviews are quite coherent. This one, on the other hand, is not. You make take that as a sign of my enjoyment, for when something amuses me, or excites me, I am often rendered incapable of speech. So much so I’m not even sure where to start.
The footnotes. My God, the footnotes. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. I confess, I’m rather fond of inside jokes, and I’m especially fond of the concept that Watson was a little absent-minded at times (granted, that’s not necessarily how I see Watson), so Meyer’s corrections and elaborations on Watson’s narrative amused me beyond comprehension.
And slashy. My God is this book slashy. I mean, I thought Canon was slashy, but this… this takes my ‘Holmes and Watson are head over heels in love’ theory to a whole new level. I am thrilled beyond words that Meyer played this up. Granted, I don’t know if he did it intentionally, but the bond between them? The love between them? Oh yes. Oh yes, indeed.
I think, though, my favourite thing about this book was strung out, deluded, border-line insane Holmes. I confess, I have a kink for crazy characters so I really, really enjoyed the hypothesis that Holmes might eventually lose it due to his cocaine use.
Now, I’m not saying I necessarily agree that Holmes was an addict. Yes, he used cocaine, but I know several functioning coke addicts, and I think Holmes fit into this category. But, the thought that Holmes use could escalate, to the point of it becoming a problem, intrigues me. Especially when you consider what it was that pushed him over the edge.
Watson leaving him. For a wife.
And I like the idea that he would conjure an arch-nemesis in his deluded state, because it’s very in keeping with the Holmes that ACD created. For anyone as intelligent as Holmes, I am certain they would crave some great evil mastermind to do battle with. Average, every day criminals must have bored Holmes senseless.
I had some quibbles with the book (I have never been a fan of Freud, for example), but overall I really enjoyed it. It was at times touching, and clever, and quite funny. I recognized the characters (most of the time) and found the theory behind the work quite interesting.
I have only given the novel 4 out of 5 pipes, but I really, really wanted to give it a 5th. I decided, in the end, to save it, as I am certain I may come across something that transcends this pastiche. If that doesn’t happen, I may come back and bump up Meyer’s rating.