Books 22 Aug 2007 02:00 pm
I recently read The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which claims to be an unpublished adventure of Sherlock Holmes written by his companion, John H. Watson, M.D., and edited by Nicholas Meyer.
Fans of Holmes know that it is a long-standing conceit to claim the detective was a flesh-and-blood person and that his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was simply the editor of the Watson-related mysteries. Meyer does not relinquish that belief here until his acknowledgements at the end, when he gives Doyle credit for creating one of the most enduring fictional heroes of all time.
The story itself is a near pitch-perfect copy of Doyle’s literary style, something that is not easy to pull off, if the profusion of poorly written Holmes pastiches is any indication.
The plot itself is simple: Watson secures Sigmund Freud to wean Holmes off a nasty cocaine habit (the seven-per-cent solution of the title). Meyer, who also co-wrote and directed the best of the Star Trek films, The Wrath of Khan, keeps the story moving briskly and manages to work in many familiar faces and objects, including Toby, the bloodhound with the ultra-sensitive nose, the detective’s Stradivarius, and Watson’s often-referenced war injury.
It’s all good fun and makes me want to revisit Holmes in the original Doyle stories. Isn’t that what a good pastiche should do?