08
Jul
11

CR3 #58: The West End Horror: A Posthumous Memoir of John H. Watson, M.D. by Nicholas Meyer

So this is another “lost” Holmes story written by Nicholas Meyer. Although I very much enjoyed The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (Look! Look! My review was posted on Pajiba!) The West End Horror leaves much to be desired.

This story begins with the murder of a theater critic during the winter of 1895. Holmes and Watson are drawn into the case by Sherlock’s friend Bernard Shaw (yes, THAT Bernard Shaw). Soon, they are wending their way through the dark and shady world of London theater as more murders soon pile up. In the course of their investigation, they meet several notable theater figures of the time: Gilbert and Sullivan! Bram Stoker! Oscar Wilde (just as he gets involved in the libel trial versus the Marquess of Queensbury)!

Unfortunately, it seems that the author go so carried away trying to stuff in as many historical figures of the time that he forgot about the other minor but necessary details of writing a book, such as character and plot. As thrilling as having Oscar Wilde as a character was, I would much rather have had more time with Holmes. Even though he was ostensibly the main character, I didn’t feel like we got much of Sherlock’s personality in the story at all, and ordinarily I find him the most interesting thing about any story he’s in. In The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Sigmund Freud was a character, but he felt integral to the tale, rather than a last minute add-in to make things more exciting. Also, the plot was not just thin but stupid. It made almost no sense, and did not fit together until a giant burst of exposition toward the end (as the murderer confesses his deeds and motives, of course.)

I was quite disappointed in this novel, since I enjoyed the other so much. I recommend stopping with Meyer after finishing The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. You’ll probably be much happier.

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