As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes pastiches. To me they’re as important as the Canon, because if they’re done right – set in the correct time period, and presented so that Holmes isn’t some drug-addicted sloppy barely-functioning murdering sociopath who can’t crawl out the door without Watson propping him up – then they add wonderfully to the World of Holmes in incredible ways. There are literally thousands of these correct pastiches in my collection, all of various lengths, and they all go together to form The Great Holmes Tapestry, in which the Canon makes up the main – but not the only – threads.
But some of these stories that I’ve read and collected over the last 41 years ended with the promise of additional and forthcoming narratives to be presented by that particular “editor” of Watson’s notes, and so far these next tales haven’t appeared. I’m still waiting, with the hope that they will someday show up, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to list a few of them, in the hopes that the people mentioned herein will see this and know that there is someone out here in the heartland that is still looking forward to reading their next effort. If you know these people or their families, let them know that I, along with other people, are indeed interested, and if you know anything about the status of any of these promised works, please let me know that too.
Some Eventually Fulfilled Promises
I’ll start with a couple of examples of works that I had hoped to read for years, and after waiting for a long time was finally able to. The first of these relates to some of the earlier works of author Michael Kurland. Some of the earliest pastiches I ever found were the first two in Kurland’s series about Professor Moriarty, The Infernal Device (1978) and Death by Gaslight (1982). Where I grew up in Eastern Tennessee, especially in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s following my initial discovery of Holmes, finding pastiches wasn’t always the easiest thing. I uncovered these on paperback racks at a local drugstore. Kurland’s Moriarty books are truly excellent, and over the years there have been a number of them. But back in 1982 there were only two, and in the introduction to the second, Death by Gaslight, Kurland wrote: “There will be a third book next year, entitled The Murder Trust.”
I spent literally years keeping my eye out for The Murder Trust. Back in those pre-internet days, one couldn’t really determine anything too well about what did and didn’t and might at some point exist in the world of books. Perhaps some of you might recall a big volume called Books in Print that was printed quarterly. It was kept behind the counter at bookstores and in some libraries, and I would scour it regularly, not only for other forthcoming titles and authors that I wanted to know about, but also looking for that pesky next Kurland book about his version of The Professor.
Finally, in December 2001, Kurland wrote The Great Game, and I was able to reach him by email, the start of an on-and-off correspondence over the years. At that point, he finally let me off the hook by telling me that The Murder Trust, for which I’d been looking nearly twenty years, was – in fact – The Great Game. Hallelujah! He’s gone on to write several more Moriarty novels and short stories since that time, and I hope that he continues.
Another example of waiting a long time for eventual fulfillment was also in relation to Professor Moriarty – this time, John Gardner’s eventual trilogy. He wrote the first two titles, The Return of Moriarty and The Revenge of Moriarty, in 1974 and 1975, respectively. And then there was a dispute with the publisher, and the third book, simply Moriarty (2008), wasn’t released until shortly after Gardner’s death. But at least it was released – finally. I don’t agree with everything about his interpretation of the Professor, but they are incredible books and highly recommended.
Still Waiting . . . .
Those success stories are outnumbered by the titles and volumes that I’m still looking for. Here are some of them . . . .
Gerard William’s Dr. Mortimer Books
I have the two available volumes in this series, Dr. Mortimer and the Aldgate Mystery (2000) and Dr. Mortimer and the Barking Man Mystery (2001), although I’m starting to doubt I’ll ever get the third. While not strictly Holmes and Watson tales, these books are part of that universe, relating some of the adventures of Dr. Mortimer (of The Hound of the Baskervilles fame), after he is widowed in the late 1880’s, remarries, and then moves to London, where he opens a clinic with his second wife, who is also a physician. In 2003, a third book, Dr. Mortimer and the Carved Head Mystery, was announced, and I pre-ordered it, but it never was actually published. Eventually I contacted the publisher, and they told me that Gerard Williams had died, and that his family had withdrawn the book. So it’s still out there, somewhere, and I’m still looking for it. If you’re part of Mr. William’s family, please turn it loose.
Timothy Sheil’s Massive Volumes
In 1999, Timothy Francis Sheil published a massive pastiche, The Siam Question. In addition to relating one of Holmes’s missions during The Great Hiatus, it also tells what happens immediately after Holmes’s return to London in April 1894, and the additional details regarding his battle that time with the Professor’s brother, Colonel Moriarty. The book is a huge hardcover, over 600 pages long, bound in faux leather to look as if it is part of a series of Foreign Office documents, compiled by Watson at Mycroft’s request, and telling what Holmes did between 1891 and 1894.
I don’t remember what I paid for it, and I have no idea what it would cost now new, but it appears to be pretty cheap used on Amazon, if you’re interested. What interests me more is the promised sequel, The Egypt Question, which was supposed to be published soon after the first book, relating more of Our Hero’s adventures during the Hiatus. In 2001, I contacted the publisher, and they said the Tim was still working on the manuscript, and that it would be published as soon as it was finished. That was fifteen years ago. Here’s hoping that 2016 is the year!
Like The Siam Question, there is another beautiful book, this time published in 1996, called Draco, Draconis. Looking just now on Amazon, I see that it sells for between $180 and $400, so I’m glad I got it when I did. It’s an oversized softcover, printed on heavy paper in Italy, telling Holmes and Watson’s investigation into a possible-real-life dragon. (SPOILER – There is a logical real-world conclusion. I wouldn’t be recommending this book if it wandered off into fantasy.) Produced by the probable pseudonyms of Brett Spencer Altamont and Dorian David Altamont, in association with Granada Television, it is full of high-quality illustrations featuring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke as Holmes and Watson. The story is quite good, and I was very much looking forward to the promised sequels listed at the rear of the book, Ronin, The Obsession of Sherlock Holmes, and The Case of ‘The Mansion House Paradox’. Sadly, none of these ever appeared.
Eddie Maguire’s Next Book . . . ?
In the mid-1990’s, I purchased a series of chapbooks by Eddie Maguire, each presenting really good individual Holmes adventures. In 2001, Mr. Maguire collected some of these in Sherlock Holmes: The Tandridge Hall Murder and Other Stories (Breese Books). He also later provided a story to Sherlock Holmes and the Three Poisoned Pawns (2008). In 2005, Breese put out Maguire’s first full-length novel, Sherlock Holmes & The Secret Mission, set in 1912. At both the end of this book and also on the back cover, it is promised that the adventure continues in Sherlock Holmes & The Bolshevik Plot. I’m still looking for this one. If you know Mr. Maguire, or any of the people who took over Breese Books (now published as part of Baker Street Studios Limited,) let them know.
In 2013, Ross Husband published Sherlock Holmes and The Master Engraver. It’s a big paperback with big print, but the story is good and enjoyable. At the end, Husband provides an excerpt from the next book, Sherlock Holmes & The Murders on the Square, as well as a statement that he had six Holmes books ready to go, to be part of a series called The Revival of Sherlock Holmes. Sadly, in January 2014, Mr. Husband died unexpectedly. The news reports stated that his second novel was then at the proof-readers, and that the others would never be written. Hopefully someone will see this and pass it on to the Husband family, to let them know there is still interest in that second book.
Before the most recent (adequate) Mycroft Holmes novel, there have been several other Mycroft Holmes series of books, as well as a stand-alone or a few. One of these series is by Quinn Fawcett (the combination of husband-and-wife writing team Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Bill Fawcett.) Another better much better Mycroft series was by Glen Petrie. These include The Dorking Gap Affair (1989), The Monstrous Regiment (1990), and The Hampstead Poisonings (1995). But there is a fourth book listed out there by Petrie, also from 1995, and I don’t know if it exists or not, called The Young Poisoners. Considering the date and the similar title, this is likely alternate presentation of The Hampstead Poisonings, perhaps something that was registered and never used. Phillip K. Jones’ massive pastiche database shows these titles to be the same book. But Jones’ database also shows another Petrie title, Mycroft Holmes and the Versailles Protocol, which he describes as “Mycroft Holmes #01” and “unpublished”. If this one does exist, then I WANT IT!
George Alec Effinger
In Sherlock Holmes in Orbit (1995) and My Sherlock Holmes (2003), there are two connected stories by George Alec Effinger, “The Musgrave Version” and “The Adventure of the Celestial Snows”. Each seems to be part of a larger tale, narrated by Reginald Musgrave, regarding his and Holmes’s adventures in the late 1870’s, when both were still at University and suddenly found themselves in a year-long battle with Dr. Fu Manchu. I don’t know if there is actually a bigger work that these were drawn from, although I’ve heard rumors that it exists. In any case, Mr. Effinger died unexpectedly in 2002, and if such a work is actually out there somewhere, then I would urge that it be published. There have been a number of other encounters between Holmes and the evil Doctor over the years in other stories, but these are especially interesting and need to be brought forward in their entirety.
The Mask of Death and The Abbot’s Cry
In 1984, Peter Cushing made his last appearance as Holmes in the film The Masks of Death. (He was in his early 70’s at the time, but looked older.) The story is supposedly set in 1913, but in my own Chronology, which I’ve written about elsewhere, I adjust it back to 1903, since in this adventure Holmes and Watson are still in Baker Street before Holmes’s retirement, and Irene Adler has not yet passed away. In spite of some of the features that were apparent in all bad TV movies of that time, the story itself is pretty good. Good enough, in fact, that a sequel was planned, to be called The Abbot’s Cry. However, Cushing’s health prevented him from participating in this one, and it was scrapped. Still, it’s likely that the script still exists somewhere, and I still make an internet search every once in a while to see if it’s surfaced.
The Consulting Detective Trilogy
In 2010, Darlene Cypser wrote The Crack in the Lens, detailing some information about Holmes’s life in the 1870's, growing up in Yorkshire in the years before he leaves for University. I disagree with a few things in the book, such as some of the dating and details about older brother Sherrinford’s situation, but all-in-all it’s a really good story, especially in filling in the early details of the Holmes-Moriarty feud. In 2012, Ms. Cypser followed up with Part I: University, of The Consulting Detective Trilogy, which planned to give other pieces of the puzzle in what helped Holmes to become Holmes. Again, I had some disagreements about dates and a few of Holmes’s actions within the narrative, and I think that he attended both Cambridge and Oxford, but this was a very informative book. The back cover indicated that Part II: Onstage was coming soon, and Ms. Cypser’s website says that Part II would appear in 2013, and Part III: Montague Street would arrive in 2014. I, for one, am still looking forward to reading them and adding them to my collection.
1997 brought the appearance of three short young adult Holmes novels by Kel Richards, The Curse of the Pharoahs, The Headless Monk, and The Vampire Serpent. These were followed by a 3-in-1 volume, Footsteps in the Fog and Other Stories, which contained three more works. As one would expect, based on their target audience, the mysteries are full of short chapters, suspense, and possible monsters that – SPOILER – end up being unmasked in the end as defeated villains, a la Scooby Doo. However, they are fun little books, and they add to the Holmesian Universe. In the early 2000’s, Mr. Richards wrote some other short tales, and sent them to Joel and Carolyn Senter of (the now defunct) Classic Specialties. Joel sent them to me to evaluate, as they were considering publishing them. I said yes, do publish them please, but in the end Classic Specialties passed, and the stories went on to Calabash Press, which apparently didn’t publish them either. I’ve reached out to Mr. Richards, hoping to track him down for another pass at publication, but in the meantime, I’m waiting and hoping for more stories from him.
And Finally . . . .
There are still other items I could write about. I’m still waiting for the complete collected edition of Basil Copper’s Solar Pons pastiches, which I’ve lately heard will appear this year, but who knows? And then there were the IDW editions of the Canon, with the stories appearing in chronological order. While this doesn’t quite fit with the earlier books I’ve described, I was looking forward to this complete set, but it appears to have stalled at Volume 3 (in 2010), and doesn’t seem likely to get going again.
And then there is the following ongoing quest, and who knows how it will turn out? About five years ago, I bought a number of miscellaneous Holmes items through The Mysterious Bookshop that had been in the vast collection of another Holmes collector, Jerry Margolin. This purchase included a couple of unpublished Holmes novel manuscripts, and also a large carton of loose documents. In the box were a lot of old Sherlockian advertisements and articles, and down in this pile was a single sheet, apparently also from an unpublished Holmes manuscript. Based on the title of the chapter and the name at the top (possibly of the author,) I managed to track down through Phil Jones' Sherlock Holmes pastiche database that the sheet possibly came from The Badger Who Quoted La Rochefoucauld by Lou Jean Clark, which is listed as an unpublished manuscript from 1981. The title is also shown on Google Books as The Badger who Quoted La Rochefoucauld: Being the Badger's Own Narrative, Supplimented [sic] by the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. (1982, 776 pages).
Since first acquiring this single sheet, I’ve been trying to track down this manuscript in a variety of places. Jerry Margolin has no memory of it, and Otto Penzler of The Mysterious Bookshop, which sold the papers to me, doesn’t remember selling the complete manuscript anywhere else. I’ve tracked down Ms. Clark’s address, and have sent letters to her to determine the manuscript’s status, and whether I might ever get to read more than the single page that came into my possession. No response.
Ms. Clark lives in the northwestern part of the U.S., and I believe that she’s a Sherlockian. If you know her, let her know that I would love to read the complete story, and I know a publisher to whom I can introduce her.
I’ll keep waiting . . .
. . . for I am patient. I have many many many Holmes adventures to read - but never enough! - and new ones show up pretty much every day. But these various titles listed above keep gnawing at me. I know they’re out there somewhere, in some form, and I want to read them. And now you know about them too, and if enough of us wish for them and ask for them, maybe some of them will break loose.