EMMINENT MYSTERY CRITIC JON BREEN HAS A STRONG PIECE ON SHERLOCK HOLMES PASTICHES POSTED ON THE MYSTERY SCENE WEBSITE . . .
For reasons related more to fear of litigation by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate than any lack of irregular enthusiasm, novel-length Sherlock Holmes pastiches were rare indeed before the 1970s. H.F. Heard’s A Taste for Honey (1941) was the pioneer—the beekeeping sleuth in this novel and two sequels was known as Mr. Mycroft, but any knowledgeable reader knew it was Sherlock and not his brother. Ellery Queen’s A Study in Terror (1966), probably the first in which the Baker Street sleuth took on Jack the Ripper, was the novelization of a movie. Not until Nicholas Meyer’s bestseller The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1974) did the floodgates open. Since then there have been scores of ersatz Holmes novels. Some of them have been excellent; others have only the authors’ devotion and enthusiasm to recommend them. They take many different forms, some of them shifting the central role to another character or reshuffling canonical details in shocking ways. I prefer those that stick closest to the original pattern: told in the first person by Watson throughout, keeping to a length not much greater than Conan Doyle’s own novels, and not distorting the characters as they appear in the original stories . . .
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