The West End Horror

I am, of course, looking forward to the next series of Sherlock. Bizarrely, I’ve not seen the current big screen adaptations. I think I might be so far down the rabbit hole of non-canonical Holmes that I’ll never return.

The West End Horror
Nicholas Meyer
(Coronet, 1977 edition)

Meyer is considered one of the better non-ACD Holmes writers, in part because The Seven Percent Solution brings makes explicit Holmes’s drug addiction. And in part because he nails Watson’s voice.

The West End Horror is a check list of late Victorian theatre. George Bernard Shaw hires Holmes to solve a murder in the West End. Then a chorus girl at the D’Oyley Cart is killed, bringing in Gilbert & Sullivan. Oh, and there’s Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Ellen Terry as well.

The overall plot is enjoyable, with some horrifying scenes played out with just the right sense of Watson holding back whilst trying to be as honest as possible. But that checklist is the problem – whereas the use of Freud in The Seven Percent Solution is integral to the plot, this reads like name-checking. Of course, the London theatrical world was – and is – small. A murder investigation will connect to some of the most famous people of that time. But it feels more fannish than previously, as if the desire to have Holmes meet X is greater than the desire to write a good Holmes story.

Still, it’s an enjoyable one, and worth getting for any Holmes fan.

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2 Responses to “The West End Horror”

  1. Stuart Says:

    I had a familiar experience when reading this book. Meyer is a very adept writer, but the book lacked the zing and high concept of the Seven Per Cent Solution, so much so that I haven’t gone on to the Canary Trainer.

  2. Mags Says:

    Yes, there’s a diminishing return, I think. The Seven Per Cent Solution took something about Holmes that was canonical but never discussed and expanded it and showed Watson’s real fears for his friend. But The West End Horror isn’t about Holmes in the same way.


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