Monday, June 1, 2009

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. As Edited by Nicholas Meyer

If I could use a singular term to describe this non-canon entry to the Sherlock saga, I would happily deem it to be “fascinating.” If I could use two terms, I would use both fascinating and diabolical. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution was not penned by the original author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Rather, it was written by Nicholas Meyer who is one of few authors who could recapture the style of the original tales. The novel completely claims that “The Final Problem” and “The Adventure of the Empty House” (Holmes’ apparent death and resurrection) were complete fabrication, and that this is the true account of Sherlock’s “Great Hiatus.” The story involves Holmes being radically affected by a very dangerous habit of his—the injection of cocaine. He raves to Watson about the great “Napoleon of Crime”, Professor Moriarity. In actuality, Moriarity is an innocent mathematics instructor who is becoming increasingly distressed by Holmes’ persistent dogging. Watson eventually finds a way to lure Holmes to Vienna where he can be treated by none other than…Sigmund Freud. At first when I found out that Sigmund Freud was playing a part, I found the idea ridiculous. However, I was proven wrong, and it worked very well. Anyway, Watson couldn’t accomplish this alone. Here we, the readers, are re-introduced to Sherlock’s supposedly more intelligent brother, Mycroft. After much plotting, they form their plans to outwit the cleverest detective in all of London. Watson (with Mycroft’s assistance) succeeds in delivering Holmes to Freud (although Holmes reveals later on that he had deduced Watson’s plans). The treatment, detox, and recovery are no doubt the most intriguing parts of the novel, although an interesting mystery does ensue afterwards. Doyle rarely delves extensively into Holmes’ inner character (which forces the reader to hunt relentlessly for even the smallest detail). Meyer does an excellent job of keeping this aspect intact. However, this is the most I’ve ever found out about my favorite detective. I am absolutely enthralled with darker characters and the hidden mysteries involving them. The payoff to discovering, bit by bit, more about the qualities and traits that define them is absorbing beyond explanation. There is a secret about Holmes’ past that is discovered in the final pages that gives an extraordinary glimpse into the mind that is Sherlock Holmes. I wholeheartedly recommend it for any Sherlockian. I award The Seven-Per-Cent Solution five stars. *****

Review by Alisa Heskin

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