I highly recommend this to all Sherlockians! This is the first non-ACD Holmes story that I've ever read and found this tale, even though it showed a side of Holmes never shown by ACD, greatly captured the true-to-Holmes writing style that so many authors fail to capture.
I like this alternate version of the Sherlock Holmes universe. It's not really a spoiler to say that Holmes wasn't really playing dead for those four years he was missing, or that there was never a criminal mastermind called Professor Moriarty...it's revealed in the first chapter of this book. And I guess some readers will have a problem with the concept, as it turns a lot of things on their heads, and Moriarty was a character that most people adore and wish there could've been more of...I mean, he was only in one story, and name-checked in a couple of others...all in all, it was short-lived rivalry.
But there was always the cocaine factor in the original story, and Holmes only took it when there were no cases, so why not speculate on what would have happened if there hadn't been any cases for a long, long time? Like I said, I like the approach, and the author does a pretty good job of copying Watson's writing style. In fact he makes excuses for himself at the beginning, saying he's an old man and perhaps his writing isn't what it once was...very clever from the author.
The actual case isn't as satisfying as the concept of mad Sherlock out of his mind on cocaine...it's okay, but the addition of a certain famous psychiatrist [psychologist?] is stretching things a bit. But it's fiction, so why not?
There are two sorts of Sherlock Holmes pastiche. The first is written by people who like the original stories and wish there were more of them; so they try to duplicate them, to surreptitiously insert an extra bit of short fiction into the canon. If a writer does this and no more the result will almost certainly be a failure. (This is contingent. It would be nice if there were more Sherolock Holmes stories, and it would be nice if someone could practice direct mimickry; but no-one can.) Conan Doyle himself was reduced to doing this sort of thing by the 1920s, and the results were pallid. But there is another way. The original stories, as we all know, are peppered with oddities, allusions to untold events, and, more than anything else, flat contradictions. A good pastiche will make a meal of the oddities, fill out the allusions, and, in this case, explain away the contradictions. A good pastiche does not merely augment, but also extends, what has gone before. So consider "The Final Problem" and "The Valley of Fear". In the former story Holmes mentions - for the first time - the criminal mastermind of all London, Professor Moriarty, who in the end dies. In "The Valley of Fear" Holmes mentions Moriarty as still living, and Watson and Lestrade speak as if Holmes talks about Moriarty all the time. A contradiction right away. Moreover, one would think that "The Napoleon of Crime" would feature more prominently in Watson's tales about London's greatest detective. Moreover still, a penetrating analysis by a good friend of mine reveals the the apparently solid "The Final Problem" to be one of the most ludicrous Holmes stories in existence. Meyer solves all this by supposing Holmes's cocaine addiction (mentioned in "The Sign of Four") generated paranoid delusions about the perfectly harmless Moriarty; which, of course, necessitates a meeting with Dr. Sigmund Freud. (I have no doubt that Freud in this novel is totally unlike the real Freud, but criticims based on this fact are misguided. Meyer's Freud is exactly the sort of man who inhabits the Sherlock Holmes universe.) Meyer's solution to Moriarty ought to be made official. The novel suffers from a lack of real meat when Holmes gets around to detecting again, and the kind of climax which looks ahead to the film version rather than behind to the nineteenth century. But all in all, THE pastiche to read.
One of the best pastiche's I've ever read, and takes a very different approach. In a way it re-evaluates two of the biggest titles in the canon, and it does have to be taken with a pinch of salt to not offend yourself if you are a traditional fan, but overall very interesting and enjoyable.
Watson’s ‘lost’ manuscript reveals that this tale was not published in the good doctor’s lifetime because it actually proved that neither ‘The Final Problem’ nor ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’ were true, but figments of his imagination! This heresy is quite convincing, as he tells it.
Holmes’ cocaine habit was to blame, in fact. The title relates to the dosage Holmes administered to himself. When Watson learned from a Professor Moriarty that the ‘Napoleon of Crime’ was indeed an innocuous maths teacher, the doctor resolved to wean his good friend off the drug. Easier said than done. He is drawn to contact Freud in Vienna, who has had some success when dealing with the drug. The first half of the book is concerned with Watson contriving to hoodwink Holmes into travelling to Vienna where he can be treated.
There are several poignant moments while Holmes undergoes ‘cold turkey’. It is during his time with Freud that Holmes and Watson are drawn into a conundrum posed by one of the psychoanalyst’s patients who has been badly traumatised and is unable to speak.
It’s a dashed clever contrivance, engaging to begin with, and then even livening up towards the end. There is much more action than either Watson or Holmes would undergo in the original canon, but it works well, and neatly sews up a few loose ends in the process. The twist, revealed while Holmes is under hypnosis, explains why the great detective should have begun his cocaine habit, and it is so surprising to Watson that he vows never to mention it to his friend; another reason why he refrained from publishing the work.
An entertaining addition to the vast collection of Holmes pastiches.
A fine read which purports to tell a lost tale from Watson's deathbed. As Watson is dying, a kindly nurse writes his tale as he dictates. This original beginning is the author's device for explaining away the differences in literary styles between this and an ACD read. Holmes has developed a debilitating cocaine habit which Watson wishes to break him of. Watson attempts to contrive a way to get Holmes help, but cannot think of a way to outsmart the master. Watson enjoins Mycroft to trick Holmes into traveling to Vienna under the guise of tracking Moriarty. There, Sigmund Freud helps Watson break Holmes of his cocaine habit. A mystery is of course dropping in their laps and adventure quickly ensues.
Normally I hate American Holmes pastiches. There are almost always errors when American writers try to write about a British Victorian society which they really don't seem to understand. Many of them also don't seem to be able to grasp the relationship between Holmes and Watson.
Meyer is one of the few exceptions. His three Holmes books are superb examples of the genre. Pity he didn't write more. Though I suspect we wouldn't still have Star Trek had it not been for him.
You've read all of Doyle's and you've re-re-re... (etc.)-read them... a lot of the questions answered and a new but authentic context... just what you wanted! Highly recommended by a lifelong Sherlock fan.