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The View from the East End (61)

By Inspector Hopkins

March 25 , 2007
 

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 by Inspector Hopkins 

As I mentioned last time, there is a very great deal of stories out there written by Watson’s “literary agent”.  Continuing to follow some links, I discovered a whole set of short stories which I thought were extremely interesting!

After reading several of them, I noticed a remarkable resemblance to the stories in our beloved Canon. To begin with, they are typically 1890’s Victorian Era stories. They are resplendent with Watson’s inimitable style of describing characters, buildings, scenery, weather, and the like. There are so many, many references to hansoms, electric lights, traveling ulsters, hunting crops, and the like that any Sherlockian would feel right at home in reading these tales.

As a newer Sherlockian, when I heard about the “pastiche” that is out there, I resolved to put off reading any of it until I had become thoroughly grounded in the original Canon. Now that I have done that, I believe I can more fully appreciate any extra-Canonical writings. In the case of the stories I am referring to here, however, I recognize that they properly fall into the category of  “apocrypha”.

I noticed many familiar Canonical-type lines throughout the series, such as: “explanations which would cover all the facts” . . .  “a cold and windy day in March”  . . . and, of course, copious use of the word “singular”.  Many of the stories have interwoven plot elements familiar to any Sherlockian. Take, for example, the story The Beetle Hunter. It is narrated by a doctor and is reminiscent of RESI because “Brook Street” was mentioned. It is also very reminiscent of COPP because the doctor was interviewed for a job, which had very strange job requirements and was offered at an extraordinarily high salary. Finally, it also was reminiscent of DYIN because profound knowledge of a particular subject was needed, and the villain, to verify this knowledge, closely questioned the doctor. (Instead of profound knowledge of Chinese pottery, the doctor had to be an expert on beetles).

For another example, in The Usher of Lea House School, I found similarities to PRIO, COPP, and BOSC in the plot elements. This story even has a James McCarthy as one of the characters!

After giving it a great deal of thought, I came to the conclusion that just about any one of the stories could be “converted” into a Sherlock Holmes adventure.  All that would be needed is the addition of Mr. Holmes, of course, and some rearranging of the dialogs. All in all, I think one could make a case that something this could have indeed happened. Of course, Sherlock Holmes is the unifying force which holds the entire Canon together and provides its continuity. And if it wasn’t for him, where would we be today?

But . . . with all the current hoopla about investigating Houdini’s death, it might be time for me to pay a little closer attention to the man who published Watson’s works. 

I’ll see what else I can “dig up” on him for next week’s column.

In the meanwhile, here is the link that will take the interested Sherlockian to the stories:

http://www.horrormasters.com/Themes/Horror_Short_Stories_4.htm

Until next time, I remain indeed,

Yours Faithfully,
STANLEY HOPKINS