The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyer, Minotaur Books, 2019 hardcover, mystery
In 1974 I bought, read, and enjoyed The Seven-Percent Solution by Meyer. There weren’t many Sherlock Holmes pastiches being written at the time, or at least not many in the public eye, so it was a real treat. Two years later, I read The West End Horror, Meyer’s second Holmes pastiche, and liked it also. So when I read that this book was coming, I was anticipating another fun, well-written book, and got in the very long line for it at the library.
Between 1976 and 2019, I’ve read very many Holmes pastiches, both novels and short stories. Most of them were well written, some really excellent. I like to believe my tastes have been developed, my appreciation of a good pastiche improved. Thus I’ve gotten somewhat more critical in that regard.
I dove into this book with high expectations, but I had not taken into account Meyer’s writing style, not anticipated his efforts to bring some aspects of the characters of Holmes and Watson up to date. I found some of that distracting, and I also felt the plot was drawn out beyond the book’s ability to carry it. This would have been better as a longish short story or novelette. Still, worth reading.
Have you read this book?
What are you reading?
Just finished OLIVE AGAIN by Strout and reading 99 GLIMPSES OF PRINCESS MARGARET, which is great fun, even for a non-Royalist. Also reading FROM SEA TO STORMY SEA, anthology by Lawrence Block and ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Towes. A lot of stuff for me.
Good for you, Patti, nice to see you reading more. That third book sounds interesting.
I enjoy a good Sherlock Holmes pastiche from time to time, Rick, but i read them sparingly. Because I’m not as immersed in it as you are, perhaps I’ll enjoy the Meyers.
I finished F. Paul Wilson’s WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS, a Libertarian SF novel that is part of his LaNague sequence. Interesting but nothing great. I also read ARTIFACT, a thriller he co-wrote with Kevin J. Anderson, Janet Berliner, and Matthew Costello. Members of the Daredevil Club go in search for pieces of an alien artifact that promises unlimited energy. I’m not sure how the book was written, but this appears to a case of too many cooks. Each author is capable of producing good work, but this book is just too diffuse and too contrives, with unlikable and unbelievable characters and a ludicrous plot and unanswered questions. Fool that I am, I kept reading Hoping it would turn out better, but nope.
My FFB was an early collection by Ambrose Bierce writing as “Dod Grile,” NUGGETS AND DUST OUT OF CALIFONIA. A great sampling of Bierce’s sardonic wit.
For some reason, I put aside the novels I had been reading and turned to short stories, mainly SF stories from F&SF and IF from the 50s and 60s, as well as some mystery tales from various anthologies.. I did finish THE BEST OF ERIC FRANK RUSSELL, an author who produced some great SF in the 40s and 50s.
More short stories lay ahead for the next few day, and possibly the entire week.
Hope the recent storms have not affected you too much; we lucked out here on the Panhandle.
Enjoy your week, Rick,
Jerry, there’s a good chance you will enjoy the Meyer. I have liked things I’ve read by Anderson, but the multiple author on a novel approach usually turns me away. Sounds like this is one of those times. After reading your FFB, I bought the ebook of the Ambrose Bierce. I’ve yet to read any of it yet, of course.
Eric Frank Russell is an author I’ve often enjoyed. I have that best of volume. Hope your good weather holds. Be good.
I did like Meyer’s original Holmes books, especially the first, but I am a firm believer that you can’t go home again, especially after 40 years. This one did not get good reviews – you seem to mostly concur – and is a miss for me. (I was disappointed in the result when Andrew Bergman wrote a new Jack LeVine book after 20 years too.)
Even though mysteries are my go to genre, I have been reading a lot more science fiction (and some fantasy) in recent years. Hence, I check the Black Gate site daily, and have picked up a lot of books to read there, especially those recommended by John O’Neill. The latest was a fantasy of sorts – a world where magic is real – but also a mystery/spy novel, W. L. Goodwater’s BREACH. Seems at the end of World War II, the Russians threw up the Berlin Wall by magic, to keep the East Germans in and others out. Ten years later it has worked pretty well in keeping the peace, but now (as the title suggests) there is a breach in the wall, and it is getting bigger. The CIA is there, but the US government sends young magician Karen O’Neill from the Office of Magical Research (shades of Harry Potter!) to see what is happening and what can be done. Karen is just finding her way, but she grows as the novel progresses. I raced through the last 250 pages yesterday – the whole book is a very fast read – and have put the just released sequel (featuring Karen in Cuba), REVOLUTION, on hold at the library. Definitely recommended if it sounds like your cup of tea,
The other book finished was NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS by Allen Eskens, bringing back his Boady Sanden from previous books. But here the future lawyer is an underachieving 15 year old redneck in rural Missouri in 1976, where a Klan wannabe group and high school bullies are his main adversaries, and where he makes his first black friend and gets his first kiss. It may remind you (as it did me) in parts of Robert R. McCammon’s BOY’S LIFE (which was set in 1962 Alabama) and Stephen King’s “The Body” (filmed as STAND BY ME), among others. Very good one.
I’m also reading (will finish soon) Lawrence Block’s latest anthology, FROM SEA TO STORMY SEA: 17 STORIES INSPIRED BY GREAT AMERICAN PAINTINGS. So far there are no weak stories, and several very good ones. Authors (besides Block) include Patricia Abbott, Charles Ardai, Brendan DuBois, John Sandford, and Barry N. Malzberg.
I do have a library download – a YA science fiction book by Brandon Sanderson – but after the last two I’m not really in the mood and will probably return it, especially as I have two more books ready to be downloaded, one by Jo Nesbo and a Martin Edwards anthology.
Well Jeff, sometimes great minds…
I read Black Gate every day too, though neither of those has caught my interest. I am reading Novice Dragoneer by E. E. Knight, which I saw at that site. I also have Calculating Stars at the library just yesterday.
Boy, Block sure does churn them out, doesn’t he? That’s a strong author list. I haven’t read any Sanderson, though I know of him, both for finishing The Wheel of Time, and for his own books, which he seems to crank out (with lots of pages). Which Nesbo and Martin?
Nesbo, NEMESIS. (I’m up to the one before it, actually, but the library didn’t have it.)
Martin Edwards, ed, THE CHRISTMAS CARD CRIME and Other Stories.
The Sanderson was SKYWARD, first in a series.
Barbara read that Nesbo, I read the Martin. Just saying.
I also liked the earlier Meyer novels but took this off my library hold list after reading less than stellar reviews.
Read The Cabin by Jorn Lier Horst, a very good Norwegian crime novel. Also a British horror novel by Jason Arnopp called The Last Days of Jake Sparks. Now just starting Come to Grief by Dick Francis. Haven’t read a Francis in probably 40 years but liked his early ones and this won an
Steve, it’s been at least that long since I read any Francis too. I remember thinking he was just fair, but most mystery fans I knew thought much more highly of his books. I tried one of the Norwegian novels and it was so bleak I decided not to go there again. It was by a different author, but I suspect the setting remains grey and grim.
This one wasn’t particularly bleak. More of a police procedural involving a murder and an old bank robbery.
I bought a copy of The Seven-Percent Solution by Meyer at the book sale in September, so I will try that one. Although I should read more of the original novels and short stories first.
Since last week I finished: MAGPIE MURDERS by Anthony Horowitz and CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan. Both long (around 500 pages) and addictive reading. I haven’t decided what to read next.
I read three Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child on our trip to San Jose (and back). I managed to find a used bookstore in Monterey and another one in San Jose…and bought a few books. Now, we’re back in snowy Buffalo trying to get caught up on the newspapers, magazines, and mail. Like you, I enjoyed Meyer’s pastiches but I’m skipping this new one. Too many mixed reviews.
This is good news to me. Enjoyed the first two (and The Canary Trainer) back when, but when I re-read 7% Solution last year I was less impressed. I expect better now.