This novel is somewhat anti-climactic. (Not just because it's a Holmes novel, which generally means 80% of the story is investigative dead ends, followed by 2% Holmes having a brainstorm and throwing Watson into a cab, leading to 10% villain's confession, ending with 8% denouement.) Having read Meyer's first Holmes homage, "The Seven Percent Solution," I was hoping for another effort of similar quality. "The West End Horror" does not quite live up to such lofty expectations. Clearly, it is well-written, capturing (and possibly improving on) the flavor of the original Doyle stories, and it is only by comparison to Meyer's brilliant first book that this one seems to struggle. Unfortunately, Meyer just tried too hard with this one to be clever. The "famous people" cameo in "Seven Percent Solution" made perfect sense. Sigmund Freud is a character because he was the most logical person for Watson to seek out, given that situation; he needed a medical consultation in the field in which Dr. Freud first made his reputation before the whole psychoanalysis fad took off. In "The West End Horror," however, the same trick is overdone, making the entire plot seem excessively like a gimmick. Oscar Wilde drops in and interacts with George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker reluctantly introduces Holmes to Henry Irving, and Gilbert and Sullivan are on hand to be interviewed about a murder victim. It's a little bit like the beginning of "Titanic," where Rose brings some paintings by Picasso aboard the doomed ship, wondering aloud if one day they'll ever be worth anything. In the hands of a lesser writer this would be a recipe for disaster; Meyer being an excellent writer, it's still a four-star novel. Still, the plot would have worked just as well, and possibly better, had the theater critic been named Bob, the famous actor Fred, the comic opera tandem Frank and Joe, and the gloomy novelist Aloysius, instead of throwing the famous personages into the mix and allowing the readers to become distracted by such unhelpful musings as "Is Meyer suggesting that Bram Stoker and Henry Irving are lovers?" (A: Probably not, but when Oscar Wilde tells Holmes that Irving is possessive of Stoker's time, one does wonder.) Freud's appearance added to the first book. The appearance of the entire membership of "Who's Who in London Theater, 1895 Edition" detracts from this one.
As a postscript, although the story does begin with a stabbing death in London, and although the synopsis on the book cover does point out that the killer is nicknamed "Jack," readers should be aware that this is NOT a Jack the Ripper novel.